Almost There

Given today’s mores, it is hard to imagine, or is it remember, that cohabitation was illegal in the United States and was considered “living in sin”. The State of Florida just recently passed a law signed by Governor Rick Scott making it no longer a crime ( small article in section A of the 4/7/16 L A Times). It had been so designated on the books there since 1868 and was then punishable by up to 30 days in prison and a $400 fine. Although it was not enforced, until the new law, cohabitation was a second degree misdemeanor and could be punishable by 60 days in jail or a $500 fine. Now that Florida has banned it, Michigan and Mississippi are the only 2 states left which have not. Of course to traditional Catholics and to fundamentalist Christians, cohabitation is still a sin and many are those who will not cohabit for that reason. It was certainly not part of the Pope’s “Amoris Laetitia” Joy of Love proclamation about family issues. Not cohabiting, however, is a choice, a personal decision, and ought not to be a legally mandated behavior. To most people in the modern world, at least in Western countries, the acceptance of two unmarried people living together should be seen as part of the march of progress. It has removed stigma against many women who would have otherwise been called loose and immoral, and it has freed even more giving them latitude in relationships permitting many not to have to remain in an unhappy one. In our society, at least, the status of cohabitation could be used as a snapshot of our progress in this area: Although decriminalization is nearly complete, societal sanction is not quite totally there. Still the status quo is a sign that many things do improve and are better than they were in the past.