MELBOURNE, Fla. (CBS Tampa) — A Florida representative is trying to repeal a law that presently classifies co-habitation without marriage as a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
However, a general reluctance from government officials toward matters alluding to sexual politics is hindering his ability to gain the Senate sponsorship he needs to accomplish his goal.
But State Rep. Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne) is not trying to make a grand statement about gay rights through this initiative.
In fact, for Workman, the issue has nothing to do with who comprises the estimated 550,000 unmarried couples documented in the state.
“My interest is purely in the fact that the law shouldn’t be in the books,” he told CBS Tampa. “As a God-fearing Christian who believes in family, people get confused as to why I would run with this, and it takes a minute to explain that these laws … have no place. (They) are not enforced, but could be, and that is the problem.”
Added Workman, “I don’t care what you do in your bedroom.”
During his political career, Workman has made a point of trimming what he views as unnecessary legislation through repealing carefully selected laws.
“Every year since I’ve been elected, I’ve tried to repeal a law … so that when I leave, it can be said that I made the statute books smaller rather than larger,” he explained.
Workman said that this particular law is an antiquated piece of divorce legislation dating back to the 1800s that no longer applied to couples once Florida became a no-fault divorce state.
Some religious officials and members of the community have expressed to Workman their desire to not only keep the law active, but to see it enforced more frequently. But for the most part, the initiative has not met much outright opposition.
All the same, due to the complications he has met during the process, Workman is not optimistic about the repeal going forward.
“To be honest … it’s ridiculous that because of the subject matter, people won’t touch the bill,” he said. “If I can’t get a senator to stand up and do what’s right for Florida in regards to repealing the law, I’ll be forced to move on to something else.”
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