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Bill calls for repeal of MN’s ‘discriminatory and outdated’ fornication, sodomy and adultery statutes

Fornication is a fancy way of saying, well, you know what.

But in state law, fornication is defined as: “When any man and single woman have sexual intercourse with each other.”

And it’s against the law.

Fornication is a misdemeanor, to be precise, which is punishable up to 90 days in a county jail or workhouse and/or fines of up to $1,000.

Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL-Shoreview) wants to repeal the section of state law prohibiting fornication, calling it “discriminatory and outdated.”

She sponsors HF2770, which would also repeal the sections of state law prohibiting adultery and sodomy.

The House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee approved the bill 15-2 Friday and sent it to the House Floor. Sen. Sandra Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) sponsors the companion, SF2732, which awaits action by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.

The bill would repeal sections 609.293 (sodomy), 609.36 (adultery), and 609.34 (fornication) from state statute, making these acts legal effective Aug. 1, 2022.

Sodomy is defined in state law as “carnally knowing any person by the anus or by or with the mouth.”

State law defines adultery as: “When a married woman has sexual intercourse with a man other than her husband, whether married or not” and further states that both parties are guilty of adultery in this situation.

These two offenses carry the possibility of imprisonment for a year and up to a $3,000 fine.

Moller said the January 2021 report issued by the Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutory Reform Working Group called for the repeal of all three “archaic and unconstitutional” statutes.

“These laws were created and used to shame, scare and dehumanize folks when they were written,” wrote James Darville, policy and organizing director of OutFront Minnesota.

“As we progress and have passed several laws creating rights for LGBTQ members of Minnesota, to have this language still in the books does not reflect where we stand today.”

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