In Black Jack, Mo., (pop. 6,792), the city council wrangled last week over precisely how to define a family. In West Virginia, religious conservatives are getting ready to do battle with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the use of a law that aims to bolster marriage by outlawing ‘lewd and lascivious cohabitation.’ In North Carolina, a state judge in July ruled unconstitutional a law that states it’s illegal for unmarried couples to live together. Still, 1.6 million Americans in seven states are breaking their states’ laws for doing just that, according to Unmarried America, a lobbying group for singles’ rights based in California. States enforce these morality-based laws – which can include fornication and ‘criminal conversation,’ sweet-talking a married woman with a mind toward adultery – only in select cases, experts say. Yet the debate about whether the laws should continue to exist is a flash point between secularists and traditional Christians over the definition of a family. ‘These are archaic laws which are hardly ever enforced, but they are … often used as a weapon to degrade someone else,’ says Dan Pollitt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, […]

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