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Bill to repeal shacking up ban unanimously passes in committee

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Florida is one of only three states that still has a law on the books prohibiting men and women from living together if they are not married. Attempts in 2011 and again in this year’s regular Legislative Session to repeal it failed, but Hollywood Democratic state Sen. Eleanor Sobel hopes it finally will happen in 2016.

On Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to support Sobel’s proposal (SB 498).

The law now states that a couple found to be “living in sin” could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor that could result in a $500 fine or 60 days in a local jail.

The law was written in 1868.

“Times have changed,” Sobel told the committee. “Currently, over half-a-million couples in Florida are breaking this law as we speak. The government should not intrude in the private lives of two consenting adults.”

The bill is moving forward in the House as well, where it’s being sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vaslinda of Tallahassee, HB 4003.

However, there has been opposition there to a repeal. In September, Republican Reps. Dennis Baxley of Ocala, Ross Spano of Riverview, and Charles Van Zant of Palatka were the only members of the 13-member The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee subcommittee who voted against the bill, citing moral reasons.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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