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'Without shame': Shacking up may finally become legal in Virginia

Shacking up may soon become legal in Virginia, where a bill aims to repeal the state's 136-year-old law that makes unmarried couples living together guilty of a misdemeanor.

Virginia is one of four states that has such a law on the books, along with Florida, Michigan and Mississippi.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Adam Ebbin, told The Virginian-Pilot an estimated 140,000 Virginians cohabitate with an unmarried partner. 

“These men and women share that relationship openly, and without shame,” Ebbin said, according to the Pilot, adding that state and federal courts have made such laws unconstitutional.

Nevertheless, the law has been in place since 1877 and states that unmarried people who "lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together ... shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor."

So-called living in sin is punishable with a $500 fine for a first offense, while subsequent offenses may carry up to one year in jail and a maximum $2,500 fine.

The bill to repeal the law is currently making its way through the state's General Assembly. While a Senate committee advanced it unanimously, it still faces a full Senate vote and, if it passes, a review in the House of Delegates.

According to NBC 4, Ebbin said that while the law hasn't been enforced in a long time, it was brought up in the early 1990s, when state officials threatened to revoke a Norfolk, Va., daycare provider's license.