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Community Leaders Back Bill Recognizing Traditional Hmong Marriages

Measure Would Certify Hmong Negotiators To Grant Licenses, Encourage Premarital Counseling

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A Hmong clan leader from Wausau is pushing for a proposed state law that would grant legal status to traditional Hmong marriages.

Mao Khang is the vice president of the state’s Hmong 18 Council, a leadership group that brings together all the clans in the state. She’s also a domestic violence counselor.

Khang is backing a state law that she hopes will discourage forced arranged marriages and reduce domestic violence. She said it would certify traditional Mej Koob or clan negotiators to grant state marriage licenses and provide training to ensure couples understand their rights under the state’s marriage laws.

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“Within the curriculum that we will have, (we’ll) make sure that they go through a pre-counseling session to see if both of them are willing to tie the knot together,” said Khang.

Clan leaders plan a series of community meetings in Appleton, Wausau, La Crosse and Milwaukee this month to build support for the new law.

Khang said in order for the law to have a significant impact, the Hmong 18 Council plans to educate judges and district attorneys about traditional Hmong marriages. The effort has the support of state Rep. Jonathan Brosthoff, who is married to a Hmong woman. He’s promised help to move the legislation forward once it gains support from the larger Hmong community.

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