Virginia Senate Kills Measure To Repeal Criminalization of Adultery

virginia%20is%20for%20loversA 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 Adultery will remain a Class 4 misdemeanor despite 13 other states that have repealed similar laws in recent years.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”

  1. The Constitution established tools for its own defense, support and enforcement.

    The Supreme Court should be much more nimble and prolific with truncated and accelerated decisions.

    Article 2, Section 4

    “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

    Officials of the Untied States that are responsible for “facially” and otherwise unconstitutional actions must be held responsible. Elected officials who subjectively pervert and corrupt the impeachment process must similarly impeached.

    As an example, the ubiquitous volumes of “infringement” on “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,…” should have been swiftly struck down by the SCOTUS many multiple decades ago. Officials that engage in this “infringement” must be impeached for nullification and treason.

    The French rolled out the guillotines. That seems to have been efficacious.

  2. Seriously. I do not understand why adultery would even be a governmental consideration or a part of the criminal justice system or civil system.

    Other than if the parties decided to get divorced and go through a court to do so and adultery is one of the causes, how is it any business of the government or by any stretch of the imagination a criminal issue?

    Religious. Sure. Government….huh??

  3. Lloyd
    As you rant and castigate Republicans, there is a Democrat (re-elected by the way) who keeps personally signing off on dropping expensive hardware on certain people in other people’s countries and accepts the vaporizing of collateral children. Then there are all the executive orders setting aside federal law. Oh sure, use the “well ‘they’ did it too.” Remember momma and her retort about others jumping off a cliff?

  4. Re. Solomon ….. Note that “GOD was not pleased.” And, that the New Testament (New Covenent) is very clear….one man, one woman. Jesus at wedding feast in Cana. And before someone cites the “wife submitting” verse in the epistle, read what the husband is required (not requested) to do.

    Now to the issue.
    The Military has started using (more actively pursuing) the provision in the UCMJ re. Adultery. Prostition is also rising to the fore for prosecution. People at all levels of senior rank (officer and enlisted) have been relieved and often offered retirement or court martial.

    Both are consensual acts (the latter is not involving the trafficking issue), but criminal in the military. BTW military people are not covered by the Constitution but the UCMJ? Proof?? Try sleeping on watch at a battlefield. Being “fired” has a whole different meaning.

    Now why is that? Anybody see a problem with dropping those provisions? An officer faces prison and dismissal if convicted….equivalent of dishonorable discharge (felony). Why would consensual acts be just cause for such prosecution? It’s nobody’s business about behind closed doors, right?

    Finally, it’s easy to take off the fetters until it’s suddenly “in your back yard.” A legal contract with the State and the participants has been violated. Often children are screwed and assets destroyed.

    So, let’s redefine marriage as a loose confederation amongst consenting adults (oops …define adults?) with actual terms of behavior agreed to by the participants and with terms addressing renegotiation and expiration/renewal.

    While we’re at it…legalize and regulate the “escort” business (see Australia.) In France, a mistress has rights, provides a service for goods and funds for services rendered and owns that which is given. In US, an escort can have it all confiscated as goods acquired through criminal activity. Why not codify an escort as a serial mistress (not sure about term for male equivalent..gigalo?..nah).

    So folks, let your significant other have all the fun and do whatever, unless the person is military. If he/she is caught you lose all benefits too.

    Oh yes, anybody notice how much the rate of single parent children has climbed. Not sure about cause and effect, but notice it’s young (predominantly white) boys who seem to set out on killing sprees (not terrorist killings.)

  5. For unknown reason this article reminds me of the LDS religion. If a Mormon wife dies, the Mormon husband can remarry. In the after life, on his Mormon-only populated planet, the man is “sealed” to all his earthly multiple Mormon wives.

    But for women, no such “luck.” Reverse the genders. No matter how many times the LDS woman is properly married within the Mormon Church, she is “sealed” to no more than one man on her Mormon-only afterlife planet.

    Per Jon Krakauer’s superb book Under The Banner Of Heaven, the crowd that killed Joseph Smith killed him because of Smith’s irresistible urge to lure wives from their husband and their children. The crowd of men finally and properly concluded the sole permanent fix for Smith’s penchant was the proverbial “dirt nap.”

    It’s ironic the LDS leaders say that Smith was “martyred.” Martyred for his “religion” of having sex with married women and luring them from their families.

    Mormons skirt the fact of Smith’s polygamy by pointing to the fact it was legal at the time. Utah only outlawed polygamy in reply to the US demand as requirement to join the Union. They simply deny and/or ignore that Smith lured multiple married women from their families.

  6. “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.”

    AMEN. Society could be so much less acrimonious if we would apply the libertarians’ non-aggression code to the way we think about law.

  7. Karen S

    I’m familiar with religions such as the FLDS. Those religions don’t promote sex outside of marriage but instead promote multiple marriages. I was thinking that adultery is sex outside of marriage. I’m not aware of any religion that says that you should engage in adultery to get to heaven, as opposed to religions that say you should marry multiple spouses to get to heaven.

  8. Kyle, who gives an iota whether Hillary is in love with Huma? Is your point that it’s time for an independent prosecutor to be appointed so that we’ll better understand who Hillary is and what she’s doing in the bedroom? It sounds so, so Torquemada-like.

    As for adultery being a crime, should Virginia allow chattel women to stray – be unfaithful to their husbands – without punishment when our military won’t? If we want all the states to rescind adultery statutes, perhaps we should start at the top – the federal level – by rescinding adultery in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

  9. It should be a civil rather than a criminal matter. That would keep it between the two parties involved.

    I oppose “no fault” divorces, and feel that adultery should affect divorce proceedings. The cliche jerk who has his wife support him through med school, promising she will have her turn after he graduates, and then dumps her for a younger woman, should be punished.

    But adultery or cohabitation should not be a crime. That’s dragging government into it.

    Do de Drain – there are actually already religions that claim to require adultery. They are called “polygamist.”

  10. I’m waiting for the lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the criminalization of adultery on the grounds that the plaintiff’s religious beliefs require them to commit adultery. Church of the Compulsory Concubine?

  11. Does Virginia have a ‘notorious cohabitation’ statute? And then the question is: How often do they use the statute? Arizona only used theirs once and the conviction was overturned.

  12. The body politic is in the middle of the bell curve for intelligence and common sense and will never get “it” on many levels. Fortunately, the Constitution addresses this chink in the amour of humanity.
    I am still amazed that the Constitution was created as it is. Maybe the Articles of Confederation illustrated the hurdles to be overcome, such that the slow running members of the Constitutional Convention could be relegated to the back of the herd.
    However, Marbury v Madison cemented the mechanism that has made the US so different. Even in England and France, our immediate “mentors”, civil liberties can be controlled by an majority opinion through politics. Here the “Supremes” are charged with being bigger than majority opinion.
    Yahoo for the greatest innovation in human kind, at least to date.

  13. Republicans want to keep government out of your wallet and keep government firmly planted in your bedroom, on your laptop, on your phone and in your social and sex life. Take my money, but get the hell out of my bedroom, technology and social and sex life!

    Republicans always demand less government intrusion into the lives of Americans unless they don’t like any of the outcomes.

    And that GOP (21-19) VA senate now goes here: A Virginia Senate committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would allow officials to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs.

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