A legislative proposal by Sen. Scott Surovell (D–Fairfax) would have seemed a no brainer in any legislative body. Surovell was seeking to decriminalize adultery in Virginia. As I have previously discussed (here and here), Virginia has an anachronistic and facially unconstitutional law that makes adultery a crime. Yet, the Virginia Senate killed the bill this month and reaffirmed its intention to criminalize what the majority deems immoral choices by consenting adults. Adultery will remain a Class 4 misdemeanor despite 13 other states that have repealed similar laws in recent years.
SB 174 would have reduced adultery from a criminal issue to a civil one. If even retained a small fine for those who have lingering desires to impose their moral judgment on others. To show that such morality laws are not the domain of Republicans alone, key Democrats like former gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds of the 25th District joined in voting down Surovell measure.
Of course, adultery would remain an immoral act in the view of most people and one that can have tremendous consequences in divorce proceedings etc. However, the desire to declare neighbors “criminals” for not following state-mandated moral codes remains a very troubling element in our nation. Even conservatives who rail against government intervention and controls, willingly embrace the notion of prosecutors pursuing individuals for private consensual conduct. Ironically, these laws have done little to stop the high level of such relationships in society according to a wide array of studies. Yet, politicians still want to legislate morality despite the fact that most people would put politicians as the least compelling group for moral instructions.
Those of us who oppose the criminalization of moral code are not advocates for immorality but rather privacy. We can still condemn this conduct from our temples and churches and mosques. We can still denounce those who violate their vows. Yet, we should be equally adamant that it is not the government’s role to police the intimate consensual choices of adults in our society. While the Puritans had many redeemable qualities, their use of colonial laws to execute or beat or brand people for immorality was not one of them. This country has matured to the point that we can put away criminalized moral codes and leave such matters to individual citizens, their families and their respective faiths.
33 thoughts on “Virginia Senate Kills Measure To Repeal Criminalization of Adultery”
Plus its only a fine or ticket….not a forced divorce.
Rb, why would an adultry ban be unconstitutional? In the main it only applies to married ppl as a participant. They solidified their right to associate via covorting….with the other half of the association. Under their “right” to marry. So basically you say they shouldnt have to give up their right to associate….to exercise their right to remain married. Wonder why we let ppl divorce at all. Its not like ending a magazine subscription. No all virginia is asking is you dissassociate what they sponsor (marriage) before you re associate. You want to play the field….stay single. You want state protection of your marriage stay fiedle. Nothing unconstitutional about it.
J – the purpose of marriage was to legitimize sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse outside of marriage was illegal (except for engaged couples). Statutory rape could be overcome by the marriage of the couple. Now, in the olden days it was impossible to rape you wife or husband.
Virginia has one of the most backwards justice systems in America. The Virginia Supreme Court recently voted that defendants weren’t entitled to see all of the evidence against them including police reports.
This kangaroo court system’s greatest danger is that it creates lifelong blacklisting of innocent citizens – essentially dishing out punishment WITHOUT accusation, charge, judge or jury. In such an unconstitutional system some (not all) corrupt police and prosecutors can destroy anyone they please for petty reasons or to silence freedom of speech exercises. After 9/11 Virginia placed blacklistees on terrorist watchlists, mostly innocent people probably of the Democratic persuation.
Virginia has little regard for overturning unconstitutional adultry laws because they don”t follow their oath of office to follow the U.S. Constitution. Virginia officials perceive themselves above the law.
Reply to Dust Bunny Queen January 29, 2016 at 2:06 pm
“… I do not understand why adultery would even be a governmental consideration or a part of the criminal justice system or civil system ….”
I agree with you. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. But, some people can’t just leave it there …
‘Marriage’ (in some US states) is considered a form of incorporation. Infidelity within marriage could therefore be regarded as a violation of fiduciary responsibility to the corporation, and rightfully considered a criminal act.
NOTE: This is not – nor is it intended to be – legal nor medical nor financial nor religious advice. This does not necessarily represent any political party, candidate, endorsement/non-endorsement of any public question, or any group, business, corporation, organization, or association. The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily my own. There is no advocation of violence in any way. This post is protected Free Speech intended for intellectual, theoretical, and philosophical discussion.
Paul…and maybe more so since he can externally wash most off. So there you have it. Plus it’s only women who are routinely tested for std. When was your last pap? But married lady being faithful gets the std….how? And no recourse.
Or there are the “temporary marriages” that poor girls in India are forced into as a form of prostitution that has been deemed allowable through a loophole in religion.
It depends on your perspective. Some people feel that “spiritual wives” are basically a bunch of mistresses who try to get along and wait patiently for their turn in the rotation. The husband is allowed to date and find a new one. The women must share their financial resources with the other women if they work. Sometimes he gets the permission of the wives and sometimes he just makes the decision to wed a brand new one.
I saw the episode where Cody decided to keep Robyn. Meri was for it, Janelle was kind of like the more the merrier, but Christine did not want to go through with it. She didn’t have a choice. And then Meri had second thoughts. Definitely not unanimous, although Robyn seems like a very nice lady.
They do not see it as adultery but others view it as their religion dictating that the man gets to have sex with multiple women who must be faithful to him alone, while having one legal wife. So it depends on who you ask.
There are also some religions that allow sex slaves for married men, such as Boko Haram and ISIS’ interpretation of Islam.
But maybe the new fad “sex addiction” clinics could use it as a new excuse, eh?
Darren – I agree.
Since we are now paying for each others “healthcare” and stds are on the rise including some untreatable type of ??? ……. Then perhaps laws like these are not bad. Bringing your wife an std is little different then smacking her around. If you smack her that it’s a crime. Indeed some std can cause sterility or death. The perp wont be punished for the assault unless he “intended” to cad around and give her one. But she is harmed nonetheless. And most states bar a spouse from suing spouse for damages. And you mainly don’t get a jury in divorce. They ought to keep this law. In marriage to consenting adults agree. The consenting mistress doesn’t have the wife’s consent. And if wife gets evidence to sue the mistress for damages….based on many laws she will have to break …. Either give spouses the right to sue each other, in addition to “equitible” split, and immunity for obtaining evidence or keep this type deterrent law ( like it even is). Or leave no recourse….hell give the guy some complimentary antibiotics so he can additionally “treat” his wife for the std he gives her.
J – wives are just as likely to give their husband an STD as the other way round.
Make every legislator in that state take a lie detector test and admit or deny that they never porked another person besides the spouse while still married.
I have always thought it ironic that Virginia would adopt “Virginia is for Lovers” as a theme for tourists to visit the state when the Supreme Court over-turned Virginia’s miscegenation law (preventing the races from intermarrying) with the case, Loving v. Virginia, https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/388/1.
Perhaps the bill was so poorly crafted, it was killed on that alone. Legislation for imposing any penalty, even just a monetary fine, is unconstitutional. I would vote down a law that replaced an unconstitutional criminal penalty with an unconstitutional fine. It is better to instead permit an outright repeal to pass committee rather than shenanigans such as this.
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