Adultery Laws

Apparently, in about two dozen states, it’s technically illegal for a married person to have consensual sex with someone who isn’t his/her spouse. Of course, these are all incredibly old laws, written by lawmakers at a time when moral views of the day were codified as laws of the state. And they’d almost certainly be ruled unconstitutional today if they were actually challenged, judging from the Lawrence v. Texas ruling.

There’s a proposed bill in New Hampshire to repeal their adultery laws, which is actually stirring up some debate.

State Rep. Timothy Horrigan, one of the Democratic co-sponsors of the bill, had this to say: “I think adultery is a symptom of a relationship in trouble. … It’s not a criminal offense.”

In my view, the state has no business getting involved with the sexual activities of consenting adults. Just like laws banning sodomy, pre-marital sex, and anything other than missionary vaginal sex between a husband and wife with the intention of producing a child, laws prohibiting adultery are an example of government trying to legislate the personal lives of adults.

But does that mean that we should be spending legislative time repealing laws that haven’t been enforced in decades and wouldn’t be considered legal if used today?

Rep. Carol McGuire, a Republican co-sponsor of the bill, had this to say: “I think the more laws in the books, the more difficult it is to pay attention to the important ones.”

Kevin Smith, executive director of conservative New Hampshire think tank Cornerstone Action, counters that the state shouldn’t be blasé about adultery. “If you think a broken family doesn’t cost taxpayers, think again. … It is the state’s concern if more families dissolve because of the costs.” His group is proposing an amendment to the bill that would emphasize that adultery is a civil offense and may be cited as a reason for divorce, even if it’s not a criminal offense.

So, readers, what do you think? Should these adultery laws stay on the books, even if unenforceable? Is there a point in going through the legislative process to repeal them? Reply below!

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