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Repeal of "lewd and lascivious cohabitation" ban passes Senate

 Michigan Capitol building in Lansing, including a tree.
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
Michigan Legislature

A bill to repeal Michigan’s unenforced ban on unmarried men and women living together made it out of the state Senate Wednesday.

The statute currently makes “lewdly and lasciviously” associating and cohabitating together a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a thousand dollar fine.

The bill's sponsors call the current ban archaic. But they also argue there’s a tax reason for changing the law.

Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) is the legislation’s main sponsor. She said that’s because current federal law stops people from claiming someone as a dependent if their relationship goes against state law.

“This law will help some individuals in our state by reducing their taxpayer burden, it will place unmarried Michigan taxpayers on equal footing with taxpayers in almost every other state and again, as mentioned, it will bring us to our current century and really just update our laws,” Chang said of her bill.

The bill passed 29-9, with nine Republicans voting no. Some cited worries about the impact it would have on traditional family structure.

“The bill before us today would clear the way for two unmarried individuals living together to meet dependency requirements and claim those tax benefits. This is a policy I cannot get behind,” Sen. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) said.

The bill now heads to the House for consideration.