Colorado House Blocks Effort To Repeal Adultery and Criminal Immorality Provisions

I have previously written about the roughly two dozen states with criminal adultery or immorality provisions still on the books. Colorado joined the states refusing rescind such laws despite their presumptive unconstitutionality after Lawrence v. Texas. A Colorado committee refused to rescind two such laws by a one vote margin — a vote supplied by Democratic Rep. John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins) who joined the Republicans (except for one Republican member) in defeating the measure.

Senate Bill 244 would have repealed an adultery provision law as well as a criminal ban on “promoting sexual immorality” by renting a room to unmarried people who have sex. Anyone found guilty of “promoting sexual immorality” can receive up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

For a state with such a diverse population and millions of tourists like Colorado, the vote was an embarrassment. It was a victory, however, only secured by a 6-7 vote in the House Health and Environment Committee with Rep. Kefalas voting against the reform of the state code. Kefalas insisted “I just know I don’t support adultery.” Of course, that is not the point. The point is that Kefalas cannot foist his own moral values on his neighbors through the use of the criminal code. Kefalas is under an oath of office to uphold the state and federal constitutions. Because he does not personally believe in adultery (like most people), he has voted to retain an unconstitutional measure on the state books.

Colorado has a strong libertarian tradition but this is a victory of movement conservatives who want the state to advance their own set of moral and religious views.

Source: Denver Post

Jonathan Turley

33 thoughts on “Colorado House Blocks Effort To Repeal Adultery and Criminal Immorality Provisions

  1. Supreme Court decisions are occasionally overturned, or at least weakened, so leaving this stuff in is a backdoor way to pass laws that could never be enacted without intense public backlash. One hopes.

  2. It just happens that I have a copy of the USMS user manual for the Prisoner Tracking System. That contains the old offense codes and one of them is “seduction of adult”. Another is “homosexual act on man”.

    In the year 2000 there was a national standardization of criminal offense codes and they are on http://www.fbi.gov.

    In my opinion, law in Colorado is the pits. Places rated should include the legal environment.

  3. Take a look at that photo. He looks like he has his hands down his pants already. I can only imagine why he is worried about others private behavior.

  4. Several years ago there was a story of a young guy in Wisconsin that ran afoul of the local DA. Because he was living with his girlfriend the DA charged him with fornication. Not having a lot of money (and probably not understanding the impact of the charge) he fought the charge himself & was found guilty. He had to register as a sex offender which cost him his job as a playground supervisor and prevented him from getting work in his degreed field of parks and recreation.

    Last I heard he got money from the Playboy foundation & was fighting to clear his name. These old laws have no value to society but are handy weapons for unscrupulous LEAs.

  5. It seems to me that the more ridiculous and intrusive these so called ‘immorality’laws become…the less able we are, as a Nation, to address the really frightening impact that little things like, oh say, Corporate malfeasance has on the lives of American citizens. Of course maybe that is the real attraction of these weird foci…why deal with the Giant trampling houses when you can bully some wee adulterous turd….

  6. @Frank

    Do you have any more details on this? Unless the person ran afoul of some local law, I don’t see how they could be charged with anything. There is nothing illegal in Wisconsin about cohabitating or having sex with one’s partner as long as neither of the people are married to someone else.

    The state fornication law only makes it illegal to have sexual intercourse in public.

  7. I want to know how the state would prove that the mere sharing of a room is evidence of sexual acts being committed? Does Colorado law allow cameras in every hotel room for the purpose of enforcing this ridiculous law?
    This is another example of the religious right trying to push their religion on the rest of us.

  8. I’d like to point out that until 2 or 3 years ago Colorado still had a blue law on the books. Give us time, we’ve got Colorado Springs to deal with.

  9. The number of times these laws are being broken in Denver, Boulder,
    Vail and Colorado Springs alone must be in the hundreds of thousands. I would bet that at least one or two of those legislators who were against repeal are themselves guilty of breaking these laws. In any country where fundamentalism is given respectable status, sexual hypocrisy runs rampant.

  10. Here’s an interesting “sex” story:

    Sex Crimes In New Orleans, Separate And Unequal
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/06/new-orleans-sex-crime-felony_n_858180.html

    Excerpt:
    NEW ORLEANS — In their neighborhoods, they are sometimes taunted with dirty looks and jeers. Their pictures hang on the walls of local community centers where their children and grandchildren play. And their names and addresses are listed in newspapers and mailed out on postcards to everyone in the neighborhood.

    Landing a job or even finding a landlord willing to give them a place to stay is a challenge.

    These women wear a scarlet letter — rather, 11 letters — spelled out on their driver’s licenses in bright orange text: SEX OFFENDER.

    They aren’t child molesters or pedophiles. Most are poor, hard-luck black women in New Orleans who agreed to exchange oral or anal sex for money. In doing so they violated the latest version of Louisiana’s 206-year-old Crime Against Nature law, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and registration as a sex offender.

    Opponents of the law say it is discriminatory and targets poor women and the gay and transgendered community who engage in what they call “survival sex.” In March, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of nine anonymous plaintiffs against the state, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and a host of state agencies, calling the law unconstitutional.

    “There are a number of absurd things in the Louisiana laws, and this is one of the more absurd,” said R. Judson Mitchell, a law professor at the law clinic at Loyola University in New Orleans. “There are crimes against nature happening at strip clubs on Bourbon Street every single night. The difference is we are dealing with women that didn’t have a fancy strip club to go to.”

  11. With a face like like, he is just jealous that no woman wants to break the law (or even bread for that matter) with him…

  12. Swarthmore mom
    1, May 9, 2011 at 9:24 am
    Fort Collins is a very conservative city.

    ======================

    I wonder how many of his constituents are slapping him on the back and telling him he did the right thing. (while stealing covert glances at his knees … sorry, couldn’t resist)

  13. @RyanWI

    No, sorry I don’t remember the details & it was probably pre-Internet days. I’ll scrounge around a bit & see if I can come up with something.

  14. “Thou shall not commit adultery.”
    It’s one of the Ten Commandments! Of course it should be illegal. Our legal system originates from God’s Law. It’s just the same as stealing, murder, etc..
    Come on…
    Adultery is an incredibly awful thing to do that destroys marriages. Think about it. Would you want YOUR wife or husband cheating on you??? No, I think not. Geez.
    Think about it people. It does no good to making adultery legal…
    Regardless if there is a law against it. People shouldn’t commit adultery anyway. What happened to a sacred marriage in this country.

  15. “I just know I don’t support adultery.”

    ****************

    I think the paper got the quote wrong. They forgot the “duh” at the end of it along with the description of the “glazed over” look of one so totally unprepared for his public service that he has to rely on simplistic and pious platitudes that usually begin with “All’s I know is ….” “All’s,” indeed.

    Burke was surely right when he said that sending him to Parliament purchased only his judgment. But this imbecile’s judgment? The citizens of Colorado got short-changed!

  16. Gyges:

    I know I may not covet my neighbor’s wife nor manservant, ox nor his ass, but, query, may I covet my neighbor’s wife’s ass?

  17. The first page of a Google search showed 9 film festivals in Colorado. How successful would those be, if the participants knew they could be arrested for sharing a room with a non-spouse?

  18. The young guy who ran afoul of the local DA in Wisconsin did not have to register as a sex offender. He did fight the charge, but despondent over having lost his job as a park supervisor and unable to get another job in the field because employers kept checking with his former employer, the School Board in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, he ended up committing suicide in 1971. For the full story, see my book, Not Just Roommates: Cohabitation after the Sexual Revolution (Chicago, 2012).

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