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New York Lawmakers Push to Decriminalize Adultery Law



Clear Facts

  • New York lawmakers, led by Assemblyman Charles Lavine, are pushing to repeal a law that criminalizes adultery.
  • The law, which dates back to 1907, designates adultery as a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail, but has seen minimal enforcement in recent years.
  • The move to decriminalize adultery in New York reflects a broader national trend, with several states already having decriminalized the act, while others still categorize it as a felony offense.

New York is on the brink of a significant legislative shift that could redefine personal freedoms within the state. Assemblyman Charles Lavine is at the forefront of the movement to repeal a century-old law that criminalizes adultery.

Lavine has been outspoken about his stance on the issue, stating,
“This outdated statute criminalizes sexual behavior between consenting adults. It is long past time for us to remove it from the penal code. If a law is not enforced, there is no reason it should be maintained.”

The law in question was established in 1907, with the primary aim of curbing divorce rates. At the time, adultery was the only acceptable ground for divorce. Today, however, the law labels adultery as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to three months in jail, even though it has been rarely enforced in recent years.

Despite its outdated nature, the law has managed to survive over the years. Since 1972, only a handful of individuals have been charged under this law, and out of those, a mere five were convicted, highlighting the law’s diminishing relevance in contemporary society.

The road to repealing this archaic statute has been fraught with historical complexities. In the 1960s, an earlier attempt to revoke the law was blocked at the last minute, sparking debates about societal values and legislative morality.

The push to repeal the adultery law in New York is part of a wider national trend. Several states, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Idaho, and Utah, have already decriminalized adultery. However, stark differences remain, as states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Oklahoma still classify adultery as a felony.

Lavine’s bill has gained considerable support, securing a commanding 137-10 vote in the Assembly, indicating a strong consensus on the need for legal reform. The bill’s impending transition to the state Senate and potential approval by Governor Kathy Hochul suggest a new era in New York’s legal landscape.

As the drive for change gains momentum, the future of adultery laws in New York is up in the air, marking a critical juncture in the state’s legal history.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the writer.


Let us know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments below.




  1. lou

    March 29, 2024 at 8:06 am

    it is interesting that the law is now viewed as a sexual act between consenting adults. As if there is no victim. While in fact there is a victim. Two in fact. Both the marital contract and the legal relationship are assualted as if they are meaningless. Laws are in place to regulate human behavior which is a tall order. If law is so great and answer to poor human behavior why are our legal venues so busy. The law should be amended with a “complimentary payment” by judgement to the unamused spouse.

  2. Babsan

    March 29, 2024 at 1:02 pm

    Are they all hoes and pimps in NYC city council today?

  3. Sandra

    March 29, 2024 at 4:24 pm


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