Daily Report Covers McGuireWoods Consulting’s Pro Bono Work in Georgia to Raise Marriage Age

July 18, 2019

Pardon Our Dust

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This year, Georgia passed House Bill 228, which raises the minimum age for marriage in Georgia from 16 to 18, or 17 with a judge’s order of emancipation.

McGuireWoods Consulting senior vice president and director, Ashley Groome, and vice president, Danica Thompson, worked pro bono with the Tahirih Justice Center to help navigate the bill through the 2019 legislative session.

A July 17 Daily Report article detailed the pro bono effort.

Tahirih is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women who are fleeing violence. Jeanne Smoot, public policy counsel for Tahirih, contacted Groome about working pro bono on lobbying efforts to raise marriage age in Georgia.

“Some of the statistics really caught my attention,” Groome said. “Tahirih had research to show that women who marry young are far more likely to be abused, to end their education prematurely, to live in poverty and to suffer other damaging effects. A significant number of young brides are reportedly trafficked from other countries or simply coerced by men twice their age.”

Groome and Thompson offered strategic guidance that helped ensure the bill’s success.

“One question legislators asked repeatedly was, what about young pregnant teenagers? The answer was that they’re still children and need to be protected,” Groome said.

“You want a mom to be able to provide for her child,” Groome said. “If a teen gets married to an abusive individual and she can’t even open a credit card or sign a lease, she has no options,” she added.

The law went into effect July 1 in Georgia, and Tahirih Justice Center continues to back bills across the country to raise marriage age to the age of adulthood.