By Sarita Chourey –
COLUMBIA – The law in South Carolina is curiously strict against lovers, fighters and fun-loving teens.
But that may change next year. Rep. Stephen Goldfinch introduced legislation last week targets nearly a dozen such laws for removal, including an 1880 ban against challenging someone to a fight with a “a sword, pistol, rapier, or any other deadly weapon.”
Some of the other unenforced laws that the proposal, H. 4535, would eliminate include ones that state:
It’s illegal to seduce a woman in South Carolina by promising to marry her afterward. The man won’t be convicted, however,based on only the woman’s testimony or if it can be established that she was “lewd and unchaste” at the time of the seduction.
It is unlawful for someone under 18 to play a pinball machine.
Operating “a public dancing hall” on Sundays is illegal.
Fornicating is against the law. The crime of “habitual carnal intercourse” between unmarried people could come with a $500 fine. The same goes for adultery.
Still, said the 33-year-old lawmaker and attorney, his bill targeting laws from 1880, 1905 and other decades isn’t a joke.
“My intention is to get the ball rolling (and) for the General Assembly to say, ‘Hey, if we can repeal four or five of some of these little things, we can repeal things that are truly burdensome to society in general,” said the Georgetown CountyRepublican.
He emphasized that he’s not promoting certain activities by trying to lift their ban.
“In my opinion, those are things that should be taught at home. I don’t endorse fornication,” Goldfinch said, adding that church is another place to address it.
“The government doesn’t need to be in anybody’s bedroom.”
Goldfinch said he hopes his effort to repeal some of the old laws will motivate lawmakers to examine other laws that have been piled high with changes to the point that they’re confusing, if not onerous. He’s hoping discussions will lead to two major repeals, but he declined to name them on Monday.
“I’d rather not reveal what they are,” he said. “If I do, I’m afraid it will be the death knell for repealing. The moment I mention it in the media, I’ll have opposition.”
The second year of the two-year General Assembly begins in January.