Panel OKs stripping adultery law from books

DENVER — Offering your apartment so a friend can cheat on his or her spouse would no longer be a crime under a bill approved in a Senate committee Tuesday.

When Sen. Pat Steadman discovered such matters were still on the state’s law books, the Denver Democrat’s first thought in introducing Senate Bill 244 wasn’t to aid adulterers or people who promote sexual immorality.

Steadman said he introduced the bill because he wants to help rid the state’s statutes of archaic and unnecessary laws.

“Both of these crimes have outlived their usefulness and have rarely, and in one case never, been enforced,” Steadman told the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved the measure 6–1. “The exact same conduct engaged in by a married couple is legal, and yet if that same conduct is then engaged in by a couple that is not husband and wife, it’s criminal. This is something that raises some serious constitutional issues.”

The law that outlaws adultery is listed under the state statutes for offenses involving family relations, such as bigamy, incest and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The law that makes it a crime to promote sexual immorality is under statutes for offenses to morals, which include obscenity, public indecency and prostitution.

Both are class II misdemeanors that carry a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Steadman said those are merely two of numerous laws that he has encountered in his time as a legislator that shouldn’t be on the law books.

Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, was on a similar mission earlier this session. He introduced a bill to create a special legislative panel to examine Colorado laws and list for possible repeal those no longer needed.

The laws Steadman wants to dump, however, wouldn’t make King’s list. Although unnecessary laws should be stripped from the state’s statutes, those that set standards for conduct shouldn’t be among them, King said.

As a result, he said he plans to argue against the measure when it comes up for debate on the Senate floor, where Steadman’s bill heads next.


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