The State of Virginia might just be well on its way to making honest men and women out of all of us. There is legislation, introduced by Sen. Adam Ebbin, to repeal the ban on unmarried couples living together. Sen. Ebbin is the only openly gay legislator in Virginia. I don’t believe, however, it is illegal for same sex couples to live together. If that is the case, a whole lot of colleges are breaking the antiquated Virginia law when assigning student housing. But I digress…..
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.
That’s the problem with some of those old laws that are still on the books. They are used to intimidate people having nothing to do with the issue at hand. Obviously a day care license has little to do with an 1877 Virginia statute. The second part of the law, prohibition on “open and gross lewdness, ” is covered under several other Virginia statues. Apparently no one is enforcing over at the mall. There is all sorts of “open and gross lewdness” there and in many bars.
At a time when the Virginia Defense of Marriage Act also refuses to grant any benefits of marriage to a cohabitating couple (man and woman), you would think they would want to keep this one on the books. I can’t see some of those old moss backed politicians getting rid of a “sin law.” Perhaps repealing the Love Shack law will open the way for some other progressive changes. I feel the Virginia Defense of Marriage Act is a civil rights violation. It will be interesting to see if any other repeals follow this one.