Posted By Jeff on March 28, 2009
Most people I know in the United States would glance at the headine above and assume that I was going to write about the Middle East. But we’re talking about U.S. states. Cohabitation is a criminal offense in Michigan, Virginia, Florida, Mississippi and North Dakota. (I crossed off Virginia a day later because of this 2005 CNN story. The original source is Wikipedia.)
The laws are old and do not get enforced. No one is going to jail for moving in with their significant other or whatever you want to call ‘em. AND most lawyers seem to think that the laws are unconstitutional in the wake of the landmark privacy decision of Lawrence v. Texas.
But until someone challenges those laws in court, they are on the books and are used on a regular basis to discriminate against unmarried couples — gay, straight, whatever — in housing, child custody and other matters.
Here’s the Michigan law:
Any man or woman, not being married to each other, who lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together, and any man or woman, married or unmarried, who is guilty of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than $5,000. No prosecution may be commenced more than one year after the time of committing the offense.
… I’m picking on Michigan deliberately, since I don’t like to think that it is just the South where at least half the people are half stupid, which explains the makeup of various state legislatures.
Before anyone starts using this as evidence of how far the sexual revolution has yet to go, let me point out that we are down to five states left on this list. It was not that long ago that cohabitation was everywhere a crime in the U.S.