A Bay Area legislator was shocked when he learned from a young constituent that while Californians cannot legally consent to sex until they are 18, they can — with the permission of a parent and a judge’s order — get married at any age, even if their spouse is many years older. […] Hill’s resulting proposal to bar juveniles from getting hitched has been watered down after it prompted strong objections from civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union. Within the past year, elected officials in several states have pushed to restrict juvenile marriage, with a law passed last month limiting matrimony by minors in New York to 16- and 17-year-olds who have become legal adults emancipated from their parents, and one in Texas holding the line at age 17 — with a judge’s permission. Hill wanted California to set a strict line at age 18, but the effort encountered swift opposition from fellow legislators, as well as groups that include the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. The measure in its current form increases family court oversight to ensure that a minor’s marriage isn’t coerced, including a requirement that judges interview individuals privately. Among those disappointed by the result of the compromise is Sara Tasneem of El Sobrante, who said the amended bill won’t help children and will only make elected officials feel like they did something. “Once you leave your childhood, there’s no going back to it,” said Tasneem, now a business student at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. Activists aiming to stop such marriages say they occur across demographic groups, spurred by religious reasons, cultural norms, pregnancy, financial incentives or, in some cases, to protect someone from statutory-rape accusations because marriage circumvents the age-of-consent requirement. Nationally, about 5 of every 1,000 children ages 15 to 17 were married as of 2014, according to U.S. census data analyzed by the Pew Research Center — figures that don’t specify where the marriages occurred. The focus of efforts should be on abusive and coerced relationships, regardless of marital status, said Phyllida Burlingame of the ACLU’s Northern California chapter. Referring to current regulations, including the requirement of a court order allowing a juvenile to marry, she said California had “a strong package of both programs and laws that prevent coerced marriage among youth, and a lack of data showing this is a widespread problem.” Hill’s original proposal, she said, “was a solution that wasn’t necessarily going to have the impact on improving young people’s health and relationships that we want.” Any legislation to eliminate this core right,” said the National Center for Youth Law in a statement opposing Hill’s initial legislation, “must be based on concrete data and information that demonstrates this drastic step is the most effective and appropriate strategy to address the harms being alleged, and that there are not other less extreme options available. Like a tanning bed or voting, you can’t get a waiver from your parents, said Sarah Bradshaw of the Feminist Majority, which promotes equality for women.