Legislature Approves Repealing Law Against Adultery

On April 3, the State Senate voted 57-4 to pass a bill (Bill S.8744-Krueger/A.4714-Lavine) that would remove the crime of adultery from the New York Penal Law. The Assembly previously passed this legislation by a vote of 137-10 on March 11, 2024. The bill will now proceed to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office.

Section 255.17 of the Penal Law reads as follows: “A person is guilty of adultery when he engages in sexual intercourse with another person at a time when he has a living spouse, or the other person has a living spouse. Adultery is a Class B misdemeanor.” A person convicted of adultery can face a fine and a jail sentence of up to 90 days. Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), the Senate sponsor of Bill S.8744-Krueger/A.4714-Lavine, described New York’s adultery ban as “‘outdated’” and “‘antiquated,’” while Asm. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) claimed that the law is “‘rooted in nothing more than hysteria’” and that those who object to repealing it are “‘sanctimonious moralizers.’”

If Gov. Hochul should sign this bill into law, the impact upon the state’s criminal justice system would be minimal. According to the New York Post, fewer than 12 individuals have been charged with adultery over the past 50 years. Nevertheless, New York Families Foundation is disappointed that the Legislature has passed this legislation. New York Families Executive Director Jason McGuire commented, “The fact that the law bans adultery—even if that law is almost never enforced—sends an important message. The message is this: Marriage vows are not to be taken lightly. When a married person commits adultery, that act either damages their marriage or destroys it. The consequences of adultery, especially in the lives of children, are grievous. A healthy, loving society does everything within its power to encourage the formation and continuation of healthy, loving families.”

Ten members of the Assembly voted against this bill (Asms. David DiPietro, R-East Aurora, Jaime Williams, D-Brooklyn, Matthew Simpson, R-Queensbury, Chris Tague, R-Schoharie, Christopher Friend, R-Big Flats, Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, E. Ari Brown, R-Cedarhurst, Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Smithtown, Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Brian Manktelow, R-Lyons) along with four state senators (Sens. Joe Addabbo Jr., D-Queens, Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma, Monica Martinez, D-Brentwood, and Jim Tedisco, R-Ballston Lake).

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