Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Politics

Romano: Lawmakers can't resist peeking under the sheets

We are such a proud state. So confident in our beliefs, so steadfast in our traditions.

It is the armor we wear in the face of constant ridicule. Let the rest of the nation rush headlong into the 21st century; we'll continue measuring our days by Florida time.

Even if that means we're still dragging our feet into the 20th century.

Take this whole living-in-sin rigmarole. If our long-ago leaders decided it was illegal for unmarried couples to live together in 1868, who are we to question their wisdom? Just because they had recently led Florida into an ill-fated war and would soon bungle the 1876 presidential election doesn't mean their vision should be questioned.

And, still, the dreamers in our Legislature are planning on taking up the issue again in 2016. It will be the fifth time in six years they've tried to repeal statutes that forbid adultery, as well as a man and a woman "lewdly and lasciviously" cohabitating.

The first two times, the measure was killed in a subcommittee before it could gain any traction. The past two years it was actually passed favorably out of the criminal justice subcommittee, but then stacked under a mountain of gun bills until it was forgotten.

Now I know what some of you might be thinking:

How can a state that preaches smaller government and individual liberties justify an intrusive law from the horse-and-buggy era that has no bearing on today's society?

Simple.

It's called being sanctimonious, and it's our default rationale. It's how we can insist that the government has no right to keep us from buying, carrying, shooting and stroking our guns, and yet empower cops to be on the lookout for suspicious booty calls.

And, yes, you could trot out the argument that cohabitation is legal in 47 other states. Or that a half-dozen holdouts have recently gotten around to repealing, or declaring unconstitutional, similar laws. Like Arizona and New Mexico in 2001. Or North Carolina in '06. Or North Dakota in '07. Or West Virginia and Virginia in '10 and '13, respectively.

None of which makes us backward relics. It makes us pious relics.

And, from all appearances, that's how we like to roll.

It doesn't matter that Census figures suggest close to 600,000 unmarried couples are violating state law by living under the same roof in Florida. And it doesn't matter that countless others are flouting the statute about adultery.

It doesn't matter that law enforcement looks the other way, or that we are allowing otherwise law-abiding citizens to face six-month jail terms and $500 fines.

What matters is that our jittery lawmakers are so afraid of the religious right that they are perfectly happy keeping nonsensical and unenforceable laws on the books.

When she brought up the possibility of repealing the law some weeks ago, Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, was told by one representative that her bill flew in the face of marriage, as if divorce was more rumor than reality.

"The government should not be peeking under the sheets, frankly, of its citizens," Rehwinkel Vasilinda said in summation.

So does this make Florida's lawmakers old-fashioned? Maybe out of touch?

I wouldn't say that.

After all, hypocrisy never goes out of style.

Comments
Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ó National political leaders, a Hollywood actress and a retired basketball star made last-ditch efforts to woo voters in the Alabama Senate race Monday, as the candidates gave their final arguments in a pivotal special election that ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
PolitiFact: Looking back at the Trump teamís falsehoods of 2017

PolitiFact: Looking back at the Trump teamís falsehoods of 2017

President Donald Trump made many inaccurate statements in 2017. His White House team seems to be following in his footsteps when defending him. Some of Trumpís staffers have made the argument that it is valid to use inaccurate facts to bolster larger...
Updated: 3 hours ago
PolitiFact: Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017

PolitiFact: Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017

President Donald Trump’s words can be at odds with reality, a fact we’ve documented again and again during his first year in office. His claim that the Trump-Russia investigation is a "made-up story" earned Trump our 2017 Lie of the Year....
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

TAMPA ó With the Republican tax bill poised to eliminate the opportunity, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority on Monday said it had refinanced a big chunk of its debt to save money in the future.The authority borrowed $152 million from the bo...
Published: 12/11/17
Alabama Senate race, unlikely nail biter, races to finish line

Alabama Senate race, unlikely nail biter, races to finish line

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ó In a blur of television ads, conflicting polls and presidential tweets, Doug Jones and Roy Moore raced Monday to make their final pleas in Alabamaís special election for the Senate, with both candidates focused on turning out their...
Published: 12/11/17
As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises President Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class ó an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trumpís distinctive br...
Published: 12/10/17

Same income, but not taxes, in GOP plan

In most places, a dollar is a dollar. But in the tax code envisioned by Republicans, the amount you make may be less important than how you make it.Consider two chefs working side by side for the same catering company, doing the same job, for the sam...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17
Democrats fighting math and history in Alabama

Democrats fighting math and history in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ó Renegade Republican Roy Moore may be plagued by scandal, but it will take more than that to convince the voters of 44th Place North to show up for Democrat Doug Jones on Tuesday. In a state where Democrats are used to losing, the m...
Published: 12/09/17
 ĎHe believes passionately that the liberal left and the media are out to destroy himí: A look inside Trumpís day-to-day

ĎHe believes passionately that the liberal left and the media are out to destroy himí: A look inside Trumpís day-to-day

WASHINGTON ó Around 5:30 each morning, President Donald Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White Houseís master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to "Fox & Friends" for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBCís "...
Published: 12/09/17
PolitiFact's 2017 Lie of the Year: Russian election interference is a 'made-up story'

PolitiFact's 2017 Lie of the Year: Russian election interference is a 'made-up story'

A mountain of evidence points to a single fact: Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election of 2016. In both classified and public reports, U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered actions to interfere with ...
Updated: 1 hour ago