For more than a century, heterosexual couples living together in Florida have had to live in the shadow of the law unless they decided to enter into legally recognized holy matrimony. Thanks to a law dating to the 1800s, oppressed Florida heterosexuals, or "straight" couples as many now prefer to be called, have been threatened with up to 60 days in jail or a $500 fine for living together without a marriage license.
Yes, this is enshrined in Florida law:
If any man and woman, not being married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together, or if any man or woman, married or unmarried, engages in open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, they shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
Now the Florida Legislature has finally passed a bill that would outlaw the form or prejudice. It now heads to Gov. Rick Scott's desk.
Efforts to repeal the Antebellum law have been around for at least the past five years, but for whatever reason, they haven't actually passed. Last year, notably, a version of the bill was left to die in committee after some socially conservative lawmakers believed that repealing the law would be a threat to the sanctity of marriage and monogamy.
The bill easily passed the state Senate this year and was passed by the House in an 112-5 vote. Republicans Janet Adkins of Fernandina Beach, Brad Drake of Eucheeanna, Mike Hill of Pensacola Beach, Jennifer Sullivan of Mount Dora, and Charles Van Zant of Keystone Heights were the only representatives to vote against it.
Van Zant, in particular, is perhaps the most socially conservative politician in the Florida Legislature. He's the guy who sponsored a law that would make abortion a felony in the state and once claimed that Common Core would turn children gay. In other words, he's completely out of touch with the reality.
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All joking about heterosexual oppression aside, the law, unsurprisingly, has its basis in a history of hate. Historians believe the Florida law and others like it were passed in the 1800s after slavery was abolished to prevent interracial couples from living together.
Interracial marriage wasn't legal at the time, so those couples didn't even have the option to get hitched. Florida is one of only a handful of states that never got around to taking the hateful law off the books.
Obviously, there's no example of the law having been actually enforced anytime recently within the state.