Virginia Considers Moving Into The 21st Century
If you live in Virginia and you’re shacking up with your significant other, you’re actually breaking the law. Thankfully, the state legislature may come to your rescue:
RICHMOND — A Senate panel on Monday unanimously advanced a bill to repeal an old law that makes it illegal for unmarried couples to live together in Virginia.
It is a misdemeanor in the state, under a law dating to the late 19th century, for “any persons, not married to each other, [to] lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together.”
Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) brought legislation to legalize cohabitation, a measure one observer in the committee hearing dubbed the “Love Shack” bill.
“Are you suggesting that perhaps things have changed since 1877?” committee chairman Sen. Thomas Norment (R-James City) jokingly asked Ebbin.
It is likely that no one has been prosecuted under the law for decades, but state officials used it in the early 1990s to threaten revocation of a Norfolk day-care provider’s state license, Ebbin told the committee.
Ebbin said only three other states still have cohabitation laws on the books: Mississippi, Michigan and Florida.
The law also prohibits anyone, married or not, from engaging in “open and gross lewdness,” meaning sex acts in public.
As originally proposed, Ebbin’s bill would have let that aspect of the law stand. But after it was noted that public sex is prohibited in other sections of the state code, the committee amended the bill to strike the “lewd and lascivious” statute completely.
Yes, sadly, these are the things being debated in a body that once included members such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, James Madison, and James Monroe.