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Virginia Makes Renewed Push to Overturn a 'Stupid' Sex Law

House of Delegates repeals law making unmarried sex illegal; now state Senate will review
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2020 7:19 AM CST
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Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Nutthaseth Vanchaichana)

(Newser) – Have consensual sex in Virginia with someone when either of you is unmarried, and you could be charged with a misdemeanor and have to fork over a $250 fine. That's because there's an old-time law still on the books prohibiting "fornication"—a law not often enforced, but one that a state delegate wants dumped for good. Per CNN, Del. Mark Levine is making a repeat push to have Section 18.2-344 removed from state code, after the Virginia Supreme Court ruled 15 years ago that it was an "unconstitutional government intrusion." The first step in getting Levine's bill passed is now cleared: The Virginia House of Delegates repealed the law last week, with seven Republicans against the repeal and one Democrat abstaining, per WTVR.

That means the state Senate now gets a crack at reviewing Levine's bill. "We should not have laws that make most of the population into criminals," says Levine, who calls the fornication law "stupid" and "crazy." "Times are very different now than they were in the 17th and 18th centuries." Although people in Virginia aren't often charged with this crime as a stand-alone, Levine says it's sometimes tacked on to other charges, such as indecent exposure. CNN notes fornication is still against the law in other states, such as Idaho, Mississippi, and North Carolina. Levine, however, is just worried about his home state for the time being. "How is Virginia for lovers, if lovers can't love each other," he says, per WTVR. (Read more Virginia stories.)

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