Bill Targets Archaic Adultery Statute

February 21, 2013
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“Promoting immorality” is generally construed to mean renting a hotel room to an unmarried couple

DENVER–Colorado legislators have grappled with laws to ban guns, allow same sex unions and regulate marijuana –and now will consider  legislation to repeal an old state statute barring adultery.

Today, the House Judiciary Committee will hear House Bill 1166, sponsored by state Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Greenwood Village) and Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), which would strike provisions in state statute 18-7-208 that criminalizes adultery, deviant sexual conduct and promoting immorality.

“Promoting immorality” is generally construed to mean renting a hotel room to an unmarried couple.

According to the bill’s fiscal impact statement, the law enacted in the late 1800s has rarely been used – just 10 prosecutions and two convictions since 2007.

The intent of the bill “is to keep the police out of our bedrooms,” Kagan told Fox 31 News. “There are some areas of life where we really shouldn’t be subject to being questioned by law enforcement, and I think this is one of them.”

Kagan and Steadman sponsored the same measure in 2011, but it failed in a House committee when state Rep. John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins) joined Republicans in voting against the bill.

The bill drew criticism from the political arm of Focus on the Family. Regardless of how archaic the law is, Jessica Haverkate argued that repealing the provisions would send the message that Colorado condones immoral behavior.

“The state once made adultery illegal to show its disapproval of the practice, a well-intentioned exercise of the government’s legitimate function of helping to set positive cultural and societal norms,” wrote Jack Marshall, an attorney and founder of ProEthics.

To now repeal the law, he said, would send the message, “Marital fidelity is old-fashioned,Colorado is sophisticated so cheat away – the state legislature supports you.”

The bill forces “the legislature to choose between voting for a law that should never have been passed (or) putting the government’s stamp of approval on home-wrecking, philandering (President) Bill Clinton, Mark Sanford and Newt Gingrich,” said Marshall.

In Colorado’s history of adulterous politicians, none is more famous than former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, whose Democrat presidential campaign was derailed after dalliances with Donna Rice on the Monkey Business boat were exposed by the media.

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