Soon to Be Legal in Florida: Living in Sin

Bill would repeal 1868 law banning cohabitation
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2015 9:16 AM CDT
Updated Apr 5, 2015 6:41 AM CDT
Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, closes on her Sexually Violent Predators bill in the Senate at the state Capitol, March 4, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla.   (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

(Newser) – Soon, the 500,000-plus couples currently "living in sin" in Florida will, at least, not be breaking the law of the land. The state legislature is moving to repeal the 1868 law that makes unwed cohabitation illegal, Reuters reports. And while it sounds rather funny, it's not always a laughing matter: A state senator fighting the law points out that parents and grandparents have been denied visitation rights because they live with someone to whom they're not married; she also notes that cohabitation misdemeanors could turn up on a person's background check. Technically, consenting adults who commit such "lewd and lascivious behavior" can be tossed in jail for 60 days and hit with a $500 fine.

"Currently, over a half-million couples in Florida are breaking this law. The government should not intrude into the private lives of consenting adults," the South Florida Democrat, Eleanor Sobel, told the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. "The times have changed. ... Only three states are left with this outdated statute—Florida, Michigan, and Mississippi." The committee gave the repeal bill, which had already cleared another committee, what the Tallahassee Democrat calls "quick, unanimous approval"; the full Senate will debate it in May. The state House is working on its own version of the bill, which is currently with the House Judiciary Committee. (Click for seven more weird US sex laws.)

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