North Carolina Now Wants To Regulate Personal Living Arrangements

North Caorilina, among seven other Southern states, still has a two centuries old law in it’s books prohibiting two unmarried persons from cohabitating.

When Sheriff Carson Smith of Pender County, North Carolina, found out that Deborah Hobbs, a recently hired emergency dispatcher, was
unmarried and “living in sin,” he gave her a choice.“She was given an ultimatum,” said Jennifer Rudinger, executive-director of the North Carolina branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. “She could marry her boyfriend, move out of the house they were living in together or quit her job.” 

The sheriff was backed by the state’s 200-year-old anti-cohabitation law, which declares starkly that “if any man and woman, not being married to each other, shall lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed and cohabit together, they shall be guilty of a class-two misdemeanour.”

Honestly, I don’t even feel like typing an opinion about this. It seems that every week, without fail, some Southern state makes the news for something stupid and unconstitutional.  It’s not like this can just be taken as a joke, either.  The maximum sentence for cohabitation if convicted is a fine of $1000 and/or 60 days jail time.  What is about about the South that the citizens and state governments feel they need to shove their own brand of morals down everyone’s throats?  I mean, trying to ban gay authors, expelling church members who don’t vote for certain politicians…  Ya know, I actually really hate to speak ill of the South so constantly, but for some reason this last month so many of the states down there have done nothing but garner bad attention.  Is it selective media representation?  Really, I’m confused….

This lady has the right idea:

“In addition to being blatantly unconstitutional, in today’s day and age, for the government to criminalize people’s choice to live together out of wedlock defies logic and common sense,” Ms. Rudinger said.  “Regardless of how people feel about the morality of people living out of wedlock, for the government to make it a crime and for the government to try and regulate these private relationships among
consenting adults, that is illogical and way out of place,” she added.

11 thoughts on “North Carolina Now Wants To Regulate Personal Living Arrangements

  1. Hah! Says nothing about 2 men and 2 women. ‘Course until a few summers ago that was a felony, but it looks like Southern states are more progressive than they think.

    wink

  2. Not to be a nitpicker, but I don’t think we (in the South) can take all the credit for this one.  Last time I looked, Michigan and North Dakota were a bit north of the Mason-Dixon line.  And as anyone who has been there will tell you – Florida doesn’t count.  There are far more Yankees than southerners in Florida.  That is to say – we don’t want it.  Y’all can have it back. wink

    Incidentally, I’m moving to Florida in a few months for graduate school, and planning on living with my girlfriend, so this idiocy affects me somewhat.  I learned about it on the school’s website, which helpfully educates would-be cohabitators on the existence of said law.  My feeling is that it’s probably not prosecuted all that much, but I’ll let everyone know if the cops come-a-knocking. 

    And yes, I’ve been meaning to comment on the prevalence of South-bashing going on here at SEB and on many other liberal blogs.  Not to say that much of it isn’t justified – we certainly have our share of ridiculous legislators and conservative-minded voters.  Even so, about 40% of both Georgia and Alabama voted for Kerry, and 45% of California voted for Bush, as you can see from this map.  I know that there is a lot of frustration among liberals (myself included) that the country is regressing at an alarming rate, but don’t write off the South as the cause of all the country’s problems to make yourself feel better – you’re just going to irritate all the like-minded liberals who live there – people you need to help change the country for the better. 

    And just to be fair, my comment above about Florida was exactly the thing I’ve been talking about, and I admonish myself accordingly.

  3. The mindset that puts laws like these on the books, or exercises these laws is, I think, in part the cause for the higher divorce rate in many states. If one can spend a year (or more) living with a potential spouse, big mistakes can be avoided before they send a couple to divorce court. Your thoughts?

  4. What I’d like to know is how often these things are enforced.  Also, why isn’t there some procedure for reviewing laws after a certain amount of time, especially for laws that haven’t been enforced for a certain amount of time?

    Also, to christina: This law was on the books long before such mindset was popular in the US, at least as far as I can tell.  But sure, people try to enforce them now because they think it’s sinful for a woman and man to live together out of wedlock.
    Of course, I agree that one can avoid divorce by living together first, but I’m just a dirty hippie, what do I know?

  5. I just wonder how long it takes to return to old habits with religious fanatics ruling everything else.

    Some of the greatest atrocities of world history… Checked:
    Crusades, burning of people, robbing of South America, accepting slavery…

    Partial responsibility to death of major part of Europe’s (&known world’s) population… Checked:
    Black Death was spread by rats and cats would have been effective way of limiting amount of rats, but in its great wisdom church/god had decided cats were in league with devil and had to be killed.

    So CV of religion ruling everything doesn’t look so bad after all… human even managed to survive!
    But maybe their own Hitler-wannabe can help them to correct that mistake this time.

  6. My understanding is that laws remain on the books until they are explicitely repealed. I don’t know that selective reinforcement by and in itself topples a law. If this is not the case, the question is whether there are laws that override this one.

    More importantly, though, it misses the point. Assuming this is at-will employment, the Sheriff could have sacked the dispatcher or remained silent.  As it stands, forcing a personal decision on an employee seems like way out of bounds to me.

  7. i’m…. i’m so sorry.  this is so sad. why don’t they just break down the door and tear gas them, to show those sinners what it’ll be like in hell if they dont repent!!!! no non-christian is safe!!  have you been to your state mandated 2 church meetings this week?

    btw, i found this anti-abortion page thats pretty funny. it all starts going downhill when they start saying “it’s not enough for the government to ban abortion, they need to formally recognise the AUTHORITY OF GOD!! AMEN!!”

    http://www.all.org/celebrate_life/cl9301.htm

    hey, thanks for that link to kansas and their ID (Idiots Decrepid-plan-to-win-more-tithe-money) panel review. I agree. It is just plain dumb to say “theres proof of god! see, the trees are beautiful, therefore someone made them” duh, wake up. sorry for the rant. i love you people (especially you les). you keep my mind alive in this mental wasteland called america.

  8. Assuming this is at-will employment, the Sheriff could have sacked the dispatcher or remained silent.  As it stands, forcing a personal decision on an employee seems like way out of bounds to me.

    Don’t know much about the matter, but I suspect that this employee is paid by the county government.  Gov’t employee is a different ballgame.  May be a morals clause at issue. 

    Come to think of it, that is a good idea.  Putting moral clauses into all government employees contracts of employement, especially college professors who teach our young.  We pay their salaries.  If they want a salary without a morals clause, to the private sector you go.

  9. I would think its the opposite. In the private sector, people can be religious (intolerant of gays, non married people, etc), but our government? They, above all employers, should not discriminate.

  10. Come to think of it, that is a good idea.  Putting moral clauses into all government employees contracts of employement, especially college professors who teach our young.  We pay their salaries.  If they want a salary without a morals clause, to the private sector you go.

    Are Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Cheney government employees?

  11. Ignoring the above digs, both mine and Consi’s, there is the old issue of drawing the line between professional and private life.

    I am not of the opinion that employers have a legitimate need to know about an employees private life unless it visibly affects job performance and once job performance is affected, the reason is largely a moot point anyway. There is clearly a fuzzy boundary, but in this case?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.