Woman Challenges North Carolina Anti-Cohabitation Law

A former sheriff’s dispatcher is challenging North Carolina’s law against cohabitation after losing her job for living with her boyfriend out of wedlock. Debora Hobbs, who had been living with her boyfriend for about three years when she was hired as a Pender County 911 dispatcher in February 2004, left her job last May after her boss told her to get married, move out of the house they shared, or quit her job, reports the Associated Press.

The anti-cohabitation law, which prohibits unmarried, unrelated adults of the opposite sex to live together, is nearly 200 – years – old and is rarely enforced, according to the Associated Press. If convicted, offenders could face a fine of up to $1000 and up to 60 days in jail. North Carolina is one of seven states which such a law, reports the News and Observer.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina filed the lawsuit to declare the anti – cohabitation law unconstitutional on Hobbs’ behalf on Monday. “The Supreme Court has made it clear that the government has no business regulating relationships between two consenting adults in the privacy of their own home,” said Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, Jennifer Rudinger. “North Carolina’s cohabitation law is not only patently unconstitutional, but the idea that the government would criminalize people’s choice to live together out of wedlock in this day and age defies logic and common sense,” reports an ACLU press release.

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American Civil Liberties Union press release 3/28/05, Associated Press 3/29/05, News and Observer 3/31/05

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