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Virginia lawmakers lose attempt to uphold law making unmarried cohabitation illegal

Virginia lawmakers lose attempt to uphold law making unmarried cohabitation illegal

Legislators in Virginia made a concerted effort to keep a law on the books that make unmarried couples living together and having sex a criminal offense by voting against SB969, which seeks to repeal the section of Virginia law that addresses extra-marital sex.

The bill was passed by a 62-25. The law, originally enacted in the 19th century (1800s), makes cohabitation by unmarried couples a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 (US) for the first offense. A second offense can mean a fine of $2,500 (US) and up to a year in jail.

According to a story filed by Poliglot, while the law is rarely enforced, it was used as recently as the 1990s as a threat against a Norfolk daycare worker with the loss of her license, as she was living with her boyfriend .

The law simply covers extra-marital sex, and doesn't refer to same-sex relationships. However, the Marshall-Newman Amendment to the Virginia constitution doesn't allow any same-sex partnerships to be recognized.

SB969 passed the state Senate last month. Yesterday, the bill passed the House with thirty-five Republicans, twenty-seven Democrats and one Independent voting in favor. Twenty-one Republicans voted to keep the law on the books by registering a 'no' vote for the bill.

Those voting against the bill included Delegates:

  • Terry Kilgore (R-Norton, Lee, Scott Wise counties)
  • J. Randall Minchew (R-Clarke, Frederick, Loudoun counties)
  • Todd Gilbert (R-Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Warren counties)
  • Benjamin Cline (R-Amherst, Augusta, Bath, Rockbridge counties)
  • Robert Bell (R-Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Rockingham counties)
  • Joseph Johnson (D-Dickenson, Russell, Washington, Wise counties)

The next step is the desk of Governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican, who has indicated he supports the bill and the end to cohabitation laws.

For more information, read the whole story at Polyglot.

About Al Stefanelli

Al is a retired author, writer and journalist. His books include "Free Thoughts - A Collection Of Essays By An American Atheist" and "A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World - The Rise Of Atheism On Planet Earth." Al began writing in 1985, starting with the New York Times. In 1993 he joined a McClatchy newspaper, writing a weekly column for ten years. His writing continues to be widely distributed on the Internet and in print. He also produced and hosted a weekly syndicated radio broadcast from 1995 to 1998, and his work won a North Carolina Journalism award in 1998. Al is the former Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc., and served on the Board of Directors for "The Clergy Project." He is also a former Southern Baptist Pastor, having served two churches and as pulpit supply for three counties. Currently, he writes part time for The God Discussion, co-hosts the Internet radio programs, "The God Discussion Show" and "Reap Sow Radio." Al lives in the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree City, GA.
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