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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.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. ernieyeball says:

    From the link to the story:

    “[W]e haven’t taken a position on this,” Chris Freund, spokesman for the conservative Family Foundation of Virginia, said via e-mail. “We’re just monitoring it.”

    Like it’s any of their damn business.
    It’s not like anyone is proposing legilation to force people to live together without being married!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  2. anjin-san says:

    Have no fear America, the conservative pussy police are always on the job!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  3. ernieyeball says:

    @ernieyeball: …legislation…
    (Hope the penalty for typos in Virginia is just.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  4. James in LA says:

    Cats and dogs living together… what’s next? Perhaps the governor should launch, you know, a probe…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  5. ernieyeball says:

    @James in LA: I saw what you did there…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. Murray says:

    “…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”

    In fairness, the body wasn’t debating whether silly legislation should be introduced, but rather considering that legislation contemporary to the above mentioned gentlemen should be stricken down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0