Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Virginia Really Is For (Unmarried) Lovers

Last week the Virginia Supreme Court struck down that state's 19th-century statute outlawing fornication, or two unmarried people having sex. It was a natural result of the Supreme Court's decision from 2003 that struck down Texas's homosexual sodomy law. So now, thankfully, it should be clear that we are all free to plook whomever we want in the privacy of our own homes, as long as everybody involved is a consenting adult. I knew that the Virginia statute wasn't enforced with any regularity (thankfully), but I had no idea that it lay dormant since 1847! How long does a law stay on the books before it just "times out?"


Dima said...

The question is how did this law get to the Supreme Court for it to strike it down? Was someone caught inexplicably having sex with another, while they were unmarried? What if two married people have sex, but they were not married to each other? Technically they're married. I think it would be a good exercise to look up all the silly laws out there that are about 200 years behind but somehow *technically* remain good law!

JDB said...

This wasn't a criminal case. A woman sued a guy she slept with who (whoopsee) gave her herpes. His defense was that she couldn't recover for an injury suffered during the commission of a criminal act. So the VaSC dealt with it in that context. As for married-to-someone else people getting together, I would assume that Virginia has a law prohibiting adultery. The effect of Lawrence on those laws is less clear.