For the first time in almost 150 years, it could become legal for an unmarried man and woman to live together in Florida. Democratic Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda and Democratic Rep. Richard Stark are sponsoring HB 4003 to repeal the portion of Florida Statute 798.02, which makes it a second degree misdemeanor for any man and woman, not being married to each other, to lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together. This statute has been on the books since 1868. Florida, Michigan and Mississippi are the only states that still outlaw cohabitation.
Other states that had cohabitation laws have since repealed them. According to Florida Statute 798.02, which was created in 1868, makes it illegal for a man and a woman, not being married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together; or man or woman, married or unmarried, engages in open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior. According to 2014 census data, there are nearly 438,000 unmarried male-female couples among the state’s 7.3 million households. Under this law, these couples could be fined $500 and locked up in jail for 60 days. The bill was approved by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Wednesday, Sept. 16 and is currently in the Judiciary Committee.