Last edited: December 19, 2004

National Sexual Rights Council Says You May Need Marriage Certificate To Check Into Florida Hotels

Lawsuit Seeks Repeal Of 1868 Florida Sex Laws

PRNewswire, December 7, 1997

MIAMI -- Bring your marriage certificate to Florida hotels? And if you are married, be careful where you kiss your own husband or wife. A lawsuit filed on Thursday, December 4 asks the Federal District Court in Miami to overturn three 120-year-old Florida laws governing: unmarried people living together ("lewd and lascivious cohabitation"), oral sex between consenting adults including married couples ("unnatural and lascivious sexual activities"), and adultery. These actions are not criminal acts in most states or in other countries. The laws are being challenged by the National Sexual Rights Council which recently announced an initiative effort to place the same repeal question before Florida voters in November, 1998.

The suit also seeks a Writ of Mandamus which would require Florida Governor Lawton Chiles to place prominent notices on all Florida tourism advertising to warn out-of-state tourists and business visitors that actions which may be perfectly legal in their home states and countries are considered criminal actions within Florida. The Writ would also require that innkeepers and landlords be provided with proof of marriage before renting any form of habitation to people of different genders.

The Petitioner in the suit is Howard Fletcher, the Council's 65-year-old Executive Secretary who is a resident of Alaska. Fletcher and an anonymous female companion, Jane Roe, III, deliberately violated all three of the challenged laws in a Boca Raton Hotel, and then submitted a written acknowledgment of the "criminal actions" to Boca Raton Police on November 13.

According to Elliot S. Shaw, the West Palm Beach attorney who is representing Fletcher: "The state has no interest at all in dealing with this situation. These laws are an embarrassment to our entire criminal justice system. The culprit in this case is the Florida Legislature of 1868 and not Governor Chiles."

Fletcher commented, "Our demand for a Writ requiring that hotels and landlords demand proof of marriage before renting a room or an apartment is a tool to wake people up to the ridiculous intrusion of preachers, politicians and government into your bedrooms."

"These laws are regularly and repeatedly violated by a vast preponderance of adult Floridians and visitors to the state. Statistics show 76% to 82% of adult Floridians and visitors are criminals," said Shaw. "While not often enforced, they remain an embarrassing, invasive intrusion on the personal freedom and privacy of all of us. They are supported by the leadership of the Extremist Religious Right. We challenge these people to come out publicly and attempt to defend their intrusion into the private lives of others.

"The small group of bigoted, sanctimonious, power hungry televangelists who are continuing to support these archaic antiquated religious-based laws are the same people who are attacking Mickey Mouse and attempting to damage the Florida economy. They attack Disney, the one company who produces more wholesome family entertainment than any other in the world."

Fletcher says he plans to return to Florida in January and commit the "unnatural and lascivious" act of kissing his own wife's breast in the privacy of their hotel room, a crime in Florida.

"Let's run that one past the courts, the legislature and the voters, and see if the people will permit religious extremists to continue to dictate private, personal, adult consensual behavior," said Fletcher.

In addition to general membership support, Fletcher says the group has been backed by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Foundation. Information about the lawsuit and the initiative can be downloaded from the National Sexual Rights Council's web site, [Not working as of 10/30/2000]

SOURCE: National Sexual Rights Council

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