Utah legislature passes bill legalizing sex outside of marriage

Utah legislature passes bill legalizing sex outside of marriage
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The Utah state legislature on Tuesday decriminalized fornication, making it legal to have sex outside of marriage.

The Utah House passed legislation on a 41-32 vote, repealing the 1973 misdemeanor crime of fornication, or sex between people who are not married, Fox 13 reported.

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The bill, previously passed in the state Senate, is now being sent to the desk of Gov. Gary Herbert (R) to be signed or vetoed.

"As with all bills, our team will review the specific language before the governor takes out his signing pen. We are, however, supportive of this update to Utah’s criminal code," Herbert's office said in a statement to The Hill.

The current law that criminalizes fornication is included in the state's criminal code chapter on offenses against the family. Those found guilty are punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. 

The law, however, is not pursued by police for prosecution and is not enforced.  

Utah Rep. Paul Ray (R), who sponsored the bill in the House, said it was time these laws were reversed, Fox 13 reported. 

Other conservatives in the Utah House disapproved of the repeal.

"What is legally is often far below what is morally right," Rep. Keven Stratton (R) said, according to Fox 13. "And I recognize our laws are not strong enough to rule a immoral people."

Updated 8:55 p.m.