Last June, the New Hampshire legislature made that state the sixth to legalize gay marriage (although a ballot in Maine undid its law) with a law that takes effect on Jan. 1. Opponents argue, of course, that legalizing gay marriage winds up eroding traditional marriage -- and maybe they're right. News out of the Granite State is that the legislature is now considering a bill to legalize adultery. Yes, it's true.
"We shouldn't be regulating people's sex lives and their love lives," state Rep. Timothy Horrigan tells the Associated Press
. "This is one area the state government should stay out of people's bedrooms."
The law is actually 200 years old (and adultery is reportedly older still) and it originally punished convicted adulterers with an hour standing on the gallows with a noose around the neck (that'd kill most lustful thoughts, I'd imagine), or 39 lashes or a year in jail or a fine of 100 pounds, which was probably a lot more then than it sounds now. Modernity being what it is, the penalty has been reduced to a $1,200 fine -- and no time on the gallows -- and now all sanctions may go by the boards entirely.
How any state could pass up income generators in these tough times is beyond me. Apparently the law was rarely enforced -- either it was too expensive too pursue, or perhaps there's no adultery in New Hampshire. There are similar laws in other states, such as South Carolina, a jurisdiction that is unlikely to legalize gay marriage any century soon. But lucky for a certain sitting governor there, the state said it wouldn't try to prosecute him to collect the $500 fine or put him in jail for a year.
Not everyone in New Hampshire takes such a permissive approach toward the proposed de-criminalization of the seventh commandment (or sixth if you go by the Catholic numbering).
"Even though this criminal law probably is not enforced right now and probably has not been enforced for some time, I think it's important to have a public policy statement that says generally or in all situations adultery is not a good thing. And I think, by repealing that statute, you're essentially diminishing the harmful effects of adultery," Kevin Smith, executive director of the conservative Cornerstone Policy Research, told the AP.
Maybe Smith should get behind the California campaign to ban divorce that we wrote about earlier.