All-but-forgotten adultery crime could go in Colo.

DENVER — The crime of adultery appears headed toward repeal in Colorado, where lawmakers from both parties call the crime an outdated 19th-century holdover junking up the books.

Adultery carries no criminal penalty, though it remains illegal. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-1 today to repeal the old crime, as well as a law against “promoting sexual immorality.”

Colorado is one of a handful of states where adultery laws are still on the books. The repeal wouldn’t affect the role adultery plays in family law proceedings such as divorce settlements.

Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman said he sponsored the adultery repeal to streamline state law by removing an old-timey quirk.

“I’m not sure this will change anything in the real world,” Steadman said of repealing the adultery law. “It’s just a matter of taking some antiquated statutes off the books.”

Steadman argued that because adultery is a crime that hinges on being married, the law may violate the federal constitution, even if it’s never enforced. An analysis prepared for lawmakers identified no adultery convictions and fewer than 20 “sexual immorality” cases in the last three years.

The only vote against the change came from Republican Sen. Kevin Lambert, who worried about the “sexual immorality” repeal. That provision outlaws providing a place for out-of-wedlock sex, a law probably aimed at frontier flophouses. Lambert said he wants to make sure the immorality repeal wouldn’t affect modern-day pandering or prostitution-ring cases before supporting the overall bill.

“There may be a lot more to this bill than adultery,” Lambert said after the committee vote.

Adultery remains a crime in U.S. military law, and adultery laws aren’t unusual in other countries. Just last month, the Mexico Senate voted to repeal the unenforced crime of adultery in that country.


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