Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Hampshire Repealing Adultery Ban?

They must not have much to do in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire state legislature is considering the repeal of the state's 200 year old law against adultery. There are 20 other states with similar laws on their books. Adultery is defined in New Hampshire as sexual relations between a married person and someone who is not his or her spouse or sexual relations between a single person and a married person. The debate in the New Hampshire state legislature has attracted the interest of libertarians who feel that the current law is intrusive and traditionalists who feel that society pays for private infidelity. CNN quotes one New Hampshire legislator as follows.

"I think adultery is a symptom of a relationship in trouble," said state Rep. Timothy Horrigan "(pronounced "whore again"), "a Democratic co-sponsor of a bill to overturn the law. "It's not a criminal offense."

There were others who spoke in favour of keeping laws on the books against adultery. CNN reports as follows.

"Kevin Smith, executive director of Cornerstone Action, a conservative think tank in New Hampshire, said the state should not take a laissez-faire attitude toward infidelity. After working for years with juvenile justice services, he said that he saw firsthand the effects of adultery on children.

"If you think a broken family doesn't cost taxpayers, think again," Smith said. "It is the state's concern if more families dissolve because of the costs."

Smith said his group will propose an amendment to the repeal measure making it clear that adultery remains a civil offense and can be cited as a reason for divorce."

It doesn't take a doctorate in psychology to figure out that infidelity means the marriage is in trouble. If that is all our legislators can do for us, then we are in serious trouble. Anyone who wants to cheat has the option of remaining unmarried to their partner. Anyone who does commit adultery is deceiving their partner and sometimes their children as well. Then there is the matter of diverting financial resources to carry on the affair that rightfully belong to the family. If a mistress becomes pregnant, this can be significant. The state enforces business contracts. A person who violates a legally binding contract can be sued in civil court. Is marriage not also a contract? Why should the implied and explicit terms of the marriage contract not be enforced?

There are fads in psychology which work their way into law. Back in the 70's there was a lot of talk and books about "open marriage." Then there were psychiatrists who said that divorce did not hurt children, that children were far more resilient than we gave them credit for. We are now finding out that divorce does hurt children as do courses of action that lead to divorce. There are some biblical laws that only make sense in a religious context. Sabbath observance might be such a case. But the harmful effects of adultery can be identified without referring to religious teaching. Children are affected by it. Society pays for the emotional fallout from it just as surely as non smokers pay for the health problems of smokers.

The very existence of laws against adultery are a statement that society has a stake in the family. Any substitute for the family is contrived and cumbersome. By protecting the family with legal and financial safeguards, society is protecting itself and its future. We should take an honest look at just how "victimless" a crime adultery is. New Hampshire should reject this change in its criminal code. States that have decriminalised adultery should recriminalise it. And states that have no such laws should put laws on their books protecting marriage.

If the New Hampshire state legislature wants to engage in useless deliberation, let them pass weighty resolutions declaring February to be "Notary Public Appreciation Month." or making the first week in October "Autumn Foliage Appreciation Week." Deliberating on adultery decriminalisation is a waste of time at best. It is trivialising marriage and serves no practical purpose. The bill should be defeated. Sphere: Related Content

No comments: