Sorry, Sluts: It’s Still a Crime for Unmarried Couples to Live Together in Michigan

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Congratulations to all the horny heathens living in sin in Michigan: You just got a little bit closer to no longer breaking the law.

On Wednesday, the Michigan state Senate approved a bill to roll back a 1931 law that deems “any man or woman, not being married to each other, who lewdly and lasciviously associates and cohabits together” as being guilty of a crime. Under that law, those lewd and lascivious couples risk a $1,000 fine or even imprisonment of up to one year. 


The bill still leaves open the possibility for someone to be charged for “open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior.” 

“This bill is not about a moral issue, it’s not about changing people’s behavior, not about marriage rates,” Democratic state Sen. Stephanie Chang said in a speech on the legislature floor on Wednesday, according to Bridge Michigan. “It’s really just about bringing us into the 21st century.”

Michigan is one of only two states that still has laws on the books that ban unmarried men and women from living together, according to Chang, who also wants unmarried couples to not miss out on tax benefits due to the law. Mississippi also bans unmarried couples from living together; if the couple’s illicit cohabitation “may be proved by circumstances which show habitual sexual intercourse,” they could face spending up to six months in county jail as well as a fine of up to $500 dollars per person.

Not everybody is thrilled about repealing Michigan’s law: One Republican, who did call the ban on cohabitation a “foolish policy,” said in a floor speech that he didn’t support giving unmarried couples the ability to claim tax benefits for their dependents, because he believes children should grow up with married parents, Bridge Michigan reported.


Still, the bill passed the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 29-9. It now heads to the House for consideration and, potentially, to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for her signature.

The move to repeal this law is only the latest move by Democrats in Michigan to update so-called “zombie” laws around sex and gender. Most prominently, Whitmer, a longtime champion of abortion rights, signed legislation repealing Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban. 

The protections of Roe v. Wade had blocked that ban from taking effect for decades, but when the Supreme Court overturned Roe last year, the ban threatened to come back to life. Michigan voters quickly made clear that they had no interest in keeping the ban around: In the 2022 midterm elections, they voted to enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan state constitution. (Adding abortion rights to state constitutions is now the best way to protect the procedure’s legality, since the U.S. Constitution no longer includes abortion rights.) 

That vote rendered the 1931 abortion ban moot, and the legislation signed by Whitmer finally stripped it from the state’s statutes.

“In November, Michiganders sent a clear message: we deserve to make our own decisions about [our] own bodies,” Whitmer said in a statement at the time. “I will continue to use every tool in my toolbox to support, protect, and affirm reproductive freedom for every Michigander, and I’ll work with anyone to make Michigan a welcoming beacon of opportunity where anyone can envision a future.”

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Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the Senate vote count on the bill passed Wednesday.,


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