Utah’s governor signs bill decriminalizing fornication

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill decriminalizing fornication in Utah.

The governor quietly signed Senate Bill 43 into law late Wednesday. The bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, was part of a series of criminal code cleanup legislation. Fornication is sex outside of marriage and, until now, was a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.

The governor previously signed a bill that repealed the offenses of adultery and sodomy among consenting adults, also misdemeanor crimes.

FOX 13 first reported on the effort to repeal the crimes last year. Known under Utah law as “offenses against the family,” the crimes were unenforceable because of court rulings on what consenting adults could do in the privacy of the bedroom.

Still, SB43 caused a little consternation among more conservative members of the legislature. It passed with less than 10 votes in the House of Representatives after lawmakers decried the state of society.

“What is legally is often far below what is morally right,” Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, said at the time. “And I recognize our laws are not strong enough to rule a immoral people.”

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