A bill that would repeal an antiquated Colorado adultery law that makes it a crime to cheat on a spouse as well as making it criminal for a motel owner to rent a room to people about to engage in marital infidelity passed House committee Thursday.
The House Judiciary Committee passed House Bill 1166 8-3 with all Democrats and only one Republican supporting the measure, Carol Murray of Castle Rock. Read the full text of the bill here.
"Let's keep the police out of our bedrooms," Rep. Daniel Kagen (D-Cherry Hills Village), one of the sponsors of the bill said during the hearing, according to The Denver Post.
A report from earlier in the week by 9News sheds light on the unusual law that, though still in effect, is rarely enforced.
The law reads:
Any sexual intercourse by a married person other than with that person's spouse is adultery, which is prohibited.
However Democratic State Reps. Kagan and Pat Steadman, both sponsors of the bill, are hoping to repeal the law this week.
"The issue is really whether or not the police belong in our bedrooms, whether or not we should be (as Coloradans) questioned by police as to who we slept with," Rep. Daniel Kagan told 9News.
The relatively unknown law resurfaced in 2004 when Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant confessed to adultery in Colorado.
A commentary published in the Los Angeles Times read in part:
"Statutes such as ours," Colorado's Supreme Court observed, "are designed to prohibit and punish the disgraceful and scandalous conduct of those who would, by their evil and immoral example, debase and demoralize society."
But therein lies a constitutional rub. Now, as then, adultery and similar statutes are intended to protect society's moral fiber, but Bryant's lawyers would undoubtedly argue that his fundamental right of privacy protects his freedom to have consensual sex with whomever he chooses, trumping Colorado's larger interest in public morality.
Then in 2011, the law -- along another currently active law that prohibits the renting of a room to an unmarried couple -- resurfaced again when Kagan was unable to get enough votes to repeal it in the House.
A similarly little-known law in Arizona created trouble for a cheating wife just last year, when her husband reported her infidelities to the police.