Seven months after [New Hampshire] approved gay marriage, lawmakers will consider easing government further from the bedroom with a bill to repeal the adultery law.
-- From "Adultery still crime in NH after 200 years" by Norma Love, Associated Press 12/13/09
The original punishments — including standing on the gallows for an hour with a noose around the neck — have been softened to a $1,200 fine, yet some lawmakers think it's time for the 200-year-old crime of adultery to come off New Hampshire's books.
Horrigan, D-Durham, and state Rep. Carol McGuire, R-Epsom, have teamed up on legislation to repeal the law.
Law Professor Jeff Atkinson of DePaul University College of Law in Chicago says states rarely — if ever — enforce criminal adultery laws. Atkinson, author of the American Bar Association's Guide to Marriage, Divorce & Families, attributed that to a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Lawrence v. Texas. In its decision, the high court found that the state had no legitimate interest justifying its intrusion into the personal and private lives of two gay men arrested in their bedroom during a police investigation in a weapons case. The men had been charged with sodomy.
Atkinson said the case applies to adultery because both involve private sexual conduct.
Kevin Smith, executive director of the conservative Cornerstone Policy Research, [said,] "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."
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