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New York State on track to decriminalize adultery

Photo: Julia Nikhinson Associated Press A couple kisses near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

Anthony Izaguirre – Associated Press in Albany

10:18 a.m.

  • United States

For more than a century, cheating on your spouse in New York has been a crime.

But adultery could soon become legal in the state thanks to a bill currently being considered by the New York Legislature, which would finally repeal the rarely used law punishable by three month in prison.

Adultery bans are still in effect in several U.S. states, although charges and convictions are rare. They were traditionally enacted to reduce the number of divorces at a time when an unfaithful spouse was the only way to obtain a legal separation.

Adultery, a crime in New York since 1907, is defined in state code as when a person “has sexual intercourse with another person at a time when he or she has a spouse living, or when the other person has a living spouse.”

Just weeks after it took effect, a married man and a 25-year-old woman were the first people arrested under the new law after the man's wife filed for divorce , according to an article in the New York Times at the time.

Only about a dozen people have been charged under the New York law since 1972, and of those, only five cases resulted in convictions, according to Assemblyman Charles Lavine, who sponsored the bill to repeal the ban. The last adultery charge in New York appears to have been filed in 2010 against a woman who was caught engaging in a sex act in a public park, but it was later dropped as part of a plea deal. plea.

Mr. Lavine says it's time to repeal the law because it's never enforced and because prosecutors shouldn't be investigating what consenting adults do behind closed doors.

“It makes no sense and we have come a long way since intimate relationships between consenting adults were considered immoral,” he argued.

Katharine B. Silbaugh, a law professor at Boston University and co-author of “A Guide to American Sex Laws,” related that adultery bans were punitive measures aimed at women, intended to discourage relationships extramarital affairs which could call into question the parentage of a child.

“Let’s just say this: patriarchy,” Ms. Silbaugh said

New York's bill to repeal this ban has already passed the Assembly and is expected to pass the Senate soon before it can be submitted to the governor's desk for signature.< /p>

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116