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Volume 71, Issue 154, Thursday, July 27, 2006

Opinion

Outdated law gets needed repeal

Eva Kaminskayte
Opinion Columnist 

Finally, couples in North Carolina who choose to live out of wedlock will no longer live as criminals. A state judge ruled July 20 the 1805 law barring unmarried couples from playing house unconstitutional.

‚ÄÇ‚ÄÇIn 2004, Debora Hobbs, a former 911 operator, said her boss threatened to dismiss her because she had been living with her boyfriend for three years. Rather than be dismissed or marry her significant other, Hobbs decided to leave her position. On behalf of Hobbs, the American Civil Liberties Union sued last year to overturn the rarely enforced and outdated law.

State Superior Court Judge Benjamin Alford was correct in his ruling to strike down this absurd law saying it violated Hobbs’ constitutional right to liberty. We need to protect our citizens’ right to privacy rather than find ways to strip them of it.

I’ve heard stories on the news of people getting dismissed for smoking, even if it’s in private, and to some extent I can see why. Smoking is perfectly legal, but all of the health problems that an employee can suffer as a result of smoking could add up to major health bills for the company.

Smoking is a personal choice, but there‚Äôs also health insurance to be considered; it would be cheaper for a company to replace a smoking employee with a non-smoking employee. 

Whether I agree with the policy isn’t really an issue, but I can see the logic in that idea.

I don’t see what harm can come of cohabitation to the extent that someone thought it was a great idea to make it into a law. Let’s forget about the moral issues involved; there’s no reason a couple should not be able to live together just because they lack wedding bands and a marriage license.

I know Hobbs was working for the county and that government employees are under the highest scrutiny when it comes to obeying the law, so her employer only wanted to be in compliance with the statue.

But the law shouldn‚Äôt have been created in the first place. Government has absolutely no place in this matter and something as personal as cohabitation. Whether a couple chooses to live together depends on those individuals‚Äô values and morals. 

A religious institution can tell a couple what they should do in this situation, but these beliefs do not apply to the whole population. If there’s a law against cohabitation, then by this logic, anyone cheating on his or her mate should be thrown in jail, too.

  Even if the law was written in a more prudish time, I find it hard to believe that lawmakers could even fathom trying to enforce it in the 20th century. Alford’s declaration of the apparent lack of constitutionality is a step in the right direction on improving such a dated piece of legislation. With any luck, his example will encourage other states to follow suit.

Kaminskayte, an opinion columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached at e.kaminskayte@gmail.com

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