Tag Archives: anti-sodomy law

Alienation of affection? For real?

Some states have archaic laws on the books, such as one that has produced an eye-popping court settlement that has my head spinning.

North Carolina is one of a few states that has a law called “alienation of affection” on the books. This story was reported this morning.

It goes like this: A married began having an affair with a man. Her estranged husband was so outraged that he filed a lawsuit under the alienation of affection statute.

Then the married man, the guy his wife jilted, won a settlement totaling nearly $9 million.

North Carolina is one of just six states that have such a law. I believe the law needs to go. It needs to be scuttled along with other statutes, such as, say, states’ anti-sodomy laws that essentially prohibit gay men from having intimate relations in the privacy of their own bedroom.

What the alienation of affection law implies is that wives are the “property” of their husbands, that they are unable to make decisions on their own. I wasn’t aware, for example, that marital infidelity was against the law. Men and women commit these acts damn near every hour of every day.

Am I condoning it? Of course not.

However, I do not condone the state intruding in the private business of married couples who grappling with life-changing decisions and actions.

When I heard that only six U.S. states have such a law on the books, I feared Texas was one of them. It isn’t.

Perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court might eventually get to decide this matter on appeal, which the wife’s paramour in the North Carolina case has vowed to pursue.

When did we realize these bans were illegal?

A question comes to mind regarding the recent spate of court rulings against statewide bans on same-sex marriage.

The 14th Amendment, which includes the “equal protection clause,” was ratified in 1868. Why has it taken until just the recent past to realize that equal protection means all citizens are guaranteed such protection under the law?


A Travis County probate judge recently ruled that the Texas ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Judge Guy Herman “ruled the state’s ban violated the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment,” according to the San Antonio Express-News.

The amendment has been on the books for 147 years! Only now has the issue come up as a reason to ban same-sex marriage.

It is true that gay couples have been largely hidden from public view for most of the history of the Republic. We didn’t have “gay pride rallies” at the turn of the 20th century, let alone in the middle of the 19th century. Same-sex couples lived in the shadows. They didn’t get married. They simply lived together, which was their right to do — except in some states, such as Texas, where it was actually illegal for same-sex couples (notably men) to be intimate; our state enforced something called an “anti-sodomy law” until it, too, was ruled unconstitutional.

So here we are now. Courts are ruling left and right that states cannot violate a civil right written into the U.S. Constitution just three years after the end of the Civil War.

It took us awhile to get to this point. But we’ve arrived. Finally.