This week, the state Senate in New Hampshire will vote on whether to decriminalize adultery. Under current state law, adultery is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,200.
Rep. Tim O’Flaherty (D-Manchester) says he was motivated to introduce the bill by a 2003 ruling by the New Hampshire Supreme Court that same-sex partners in an adulterous affair could not be charged with a crime, because the law defines adultery as only being between a man and a woman. He also cites privacy grounds and says the law is rarely enforced.
“I don’t think there’s any appetite in New Hampshire to use police powers to enforce a marriage,” O’Flaherty testified during a public hearing last month.
Only one member of the public spoke against the bill — a man who tried to file a criminal adultery complaint against his former wife.
“It does provide some solace to victims of adultery, who can take comfort in that fact that what happened to them was so evil the state has decided to criminalize it. That is not trivial,” he testified.
The bill already passed the house 268-29, and a spokesman for Gov. Maggie Hassan says she would likely sign the repeal if it passes.
Massachusetts and Rhode Island are among the other 20 states where adultery is a crime.
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