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Coverage of Virginia politics and the 2014 election.

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Cohabitation would be legal under Senate bill

Your grandmother might still disapprove, but it would no longer be illegal to live with your boyfriend or girlfriend under a bill advanced Monday by a Senate committee.

The bill, from Sen. Adam Ebbin, repeals Virginia’s law – more than a century old – that makes unmarried cohabitation illegal.

Technically, the code section makes it illegal for unmarried people to “lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together.” Doing so is a misdemeanor.

It doesn’t appear that anyone has been prosecuted under the law in years, but it was still on the books – despite some court rulings in the past decade that Ebbin said likely make the cohabitation law unconstitutional. He said only three other states have cohabitation laws like Virginia’s.

Ebbin said census numbers indicate more than 140,000 Virginians live with a partner, unmarried.

“Are you suggesting perhaps things have changed since 1877?” asked Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City County, jokingly.

With no one speaking out in favor of keeping cohabitation illegal, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee unanimously passed Ebbin’s bill, which will now go to the full Senate.

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