Feedback
News

Virginia Bill to Decriminalize Sex Outside of Marriage Stalls

Virginia isn’t for all lovers.

An antiquated state law that makes it a crime to have sex outside of marriage remains on the books after an effort to decriminalize it failed to move out of a House subcommittee Wednesday.

HB914 would repeal the state statute that classifies it as a misdemeanor for “any unmarried person to voluntarily have sexual intercourse with any other person.” Those convicted face a $250 fine but no jail time.

Lawmakers decided not to move the fornication bill forward because they had concerns over potential loopholes the change would make in relation to incest and other sex crimes, the Virginian-Pilot reported. The House Courts of Justice committee decided to table the bill.

A spokesman for Delegate Mark Sickles, a Democrat who introduced the proposal, told NBC News that members want to make sure the bill is redrafted correctly and sent to the state Crime Commission for review before it is taken up again.

Eight people were convicted of fornication last year, according to the Virginian-Pilot. Prosecutors might charge someone with it as part of a plea deal to avoid a stiffer sentence.

So-called morality laws, meanwhile, remain a hot topic in Virginia. Adultery also is a misdemeanor in the state, and carries a $250 fine. Suicide is considered a common-law crime.

“I think we generally support the idea of taking these no longer enforceable, moral laws off the books,” Anna Scholl, executive director of advocacy group ProgressVA, told the Virginian-Pilot. “Government shouldn’t be peeking through your bedroom window to see what’s going on.”