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 The law, originally enacted in the 19th century (1800s), makes cohabitation by unmarried couples a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 (US) for the first offense.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.