Virginia senator from Alexandria moves to make cohabitation legal

Good news for unmarried couples living together in Virginia. The “Love Shack” bill is gaining traction in the state senate.

Co-habitation became a crime in the Commonwealth in 1877, and it remains illegal.

Monday, a state senate panel unanimously approved lifting the ban on living together out of wedlock.

Chris Troendly of Arlington said, "I'm kind of fearful the police are going to come knocking. I didn't know that was a thing."

Troendly and his girlfriend were unaware they can't legally share a roof over their heads in Virginia - without putting a ring on it.

Arlington resident Jullian Roberts and her husband pleaded guilty too.

"Really ridiculous, because we lived together before we were married,' Roberts said. "I guess we were breaking the law."

Virginia is one of just four states with laws against what's called "lewd and lascivious co-habitation." Florida, Michigan and Mississippi round out the group.

But the 136-year-old law may not last much longer thanks to an Alexandria State Senator Adam Ebbin, who introduced legislation to repeal it.

Ebbin, (D) District-30, said, "We need to bring the state law into this century. The reality of today is not the reality of 1877."

As the law stand today, taking a trial run at marriage could cost first time offenders $500 and an up to $2,500 fine.

While Ebbin said no one has been prosecuted in years, and police aren't actively enforcing the rule, he and others agree it's time to get with the times.

Roberts said, "I have a lot of coworkers who are living together. They're co-habitating. They might not even be in a relationship. They just do it because it's so expensive to live here, so the fact that's illegal is just a little ridiculous."

Ebbin said state officials used the ban on co-habitation in the early 90s to threaten taking away a daycare provider's license in Norfolk.

His bill goes to the full state senate for a vote late this week. After that it heads to the House of Delegates.