Lewd and lascivious cohabitation; eliminates crime. (SB969)

Introduced By

Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) with support from co-patron Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Mount Vernon)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Lewd and lascivious cohabitation. Eliminates the crime of lewd and lascivious cohabitation. Amends § 18.2-345, of the Code of Virginia. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


  • 01/08/2013 Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/13
  • 01/08/2013 Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/13 13103511D
  • 01/08/2013 Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
  • 01/28/2013 Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
  • 01/28/2013 Committee substitute printed 13104663D-S1
  • 01/29/2013 Constitutional reading dispensed (39-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
  • 01/30/2013 Read second time
  • 01/30/2013 Reading of substitute waived
  • 01/30/2013 Committee substitute agreed to 13104663D-S1
  • 01/30/2013 Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute SB969S1
  • 01/31/2013 Read third time and passed Senate (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
  • 02/02/2013 Placed on Calendar
  • 02/02/2013 Read first time
  • 02/02/2013 Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
  • 02/08/2013 Assigned Courts sub: #1 Criminal
  • 02/11/2013 Subcommittee recommends reporting (8-Y 0-N)
  • 02/15/2013 Reported from Courts of Justice (18-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
  • 02/19/2013 Read second time
  • 02/20/2013 Read third time
  • 02/20/2013 Motion to rerefer to Courts of Justice committee rejected
  • 02/20/2013 Passed House (62-Y 25-N)
  • 02/20/2013 VOTE: PASSAGE (62-Y 25-N) (see vote tally)
  • 02/23/2013 Enrolled
  • 02/23/2013 Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB969ER)
  • 02/23/2013 Signed by President
  • 02/23/2013 Signed by Speaker
  • 03/20/2013 G Approved by Governor-Chapter 621 (effective 7/1/13)
  • 03/20/2013 G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0621)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 1 clip in all, totaling 6 minutes.


stephen writes:

Sounds like a gay thing.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Oh, bravo Delegate Ebbin!

This is a reference to § 18.2-345, a law that makes it illegal for two people unmarried people to live together if they are in a relationship. It's totally insane. It's an embarrassment for Virginia that this is on the books. This is one of those laws that remains not because anybody wants it, but because no legislator has the nerve to introduce the bill to eliminate it. It looks like Del. Ebbin has the nerve. Will the Courts of Justice committee have the nerve to advance it?

ACLU-VA LGBT Rights, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

Virginia ACLU supports this bill which eliminates the unconstitutional provisions of the Code that make it a crime for unmarried couples to cohabit openly.

Andrea Handscomb writes:

This is a great step to expand civil rights. Thank you Senator Ebbin!

Rich Strimel writes:

Sen Ebbin,
This is a bill that is way past due. Thank you for taking the lead on this issue!

Potential Cohabitor writes:

This bill will legalize cohabitation by unmarried couples. The bill will therefore also legalize palimony, where one party receives property and money from the other when cohabitation ends. Gold diggers and lawyers will rejoice if this bill becomes law.

It is amazing that the Virginia Senate was stupid enough to pass this bill without considering the palimony issue. On the other hand, many Senators are lawyers, so perhaps the Senate's support is not very surprising.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

This bill will legalize cohabitation by unmarried couples. The bill will therefore also legalize palimony, where one party receives property and money from the other when cohabitation ends.

No, it won't. Palimony would require that the state recognize marriage-like contracts between two people living together, something that is explicitly banned by the Virginia Marriage Amendment, which says:

Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.

Community property is a right of marriage and, as a result, prohibited under Virginia law outside of marriage.

Potential Cohabitor writes:

Reply to Waldo Jaquith: Courts in California and perhaps other states award palimony even when cohabiting parties have never signed agreements or contracts that resemble marriage contracts. However, it does indeed appear that, because of the Virginia Marriage Amendment, Virginia courts will refuse to award palimony in such case when cohabitation ends.

That being said, some people may consider that Virginia courts can decide that the Virginia Marriage Amendment was not intended to prohibit palimony, but instead had other purposes. It is a loose end that the General Assembly needs to address before it passes SB 969. If SB 969 does not address the palimony issue, enterprising lawyers and their clients may well bring the matter to court.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Your claimed concerns are wildly unreasonable. We have a constitutional amendment that states quite clearly that none of the benefits of marriage will be extended to people who are not married. Period.