Weinberg-Beck Bill To Repeal Antiquated Laws On The Status Of Women Advances

Laws Contain Antiquated, Demeaning Language Towards Women

TRENTON – A bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Loretta Weinberg and Jennifer Beck which would repeal certain obsolete, antiquated statutes containing demeaning language to women was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.

The bill, S-2665, would repeal a number of statues on the books which either do not accurately reflect the status of women in the 21st Century, or contain language which would be considered sexist or demeaning under today’s standards.

“The language in these three laws is more akin to a trash novel than it is to official legal decree,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “It’s important to remember the struggles that women went through to achieve equal rights, and in that sense, these laws may have some historical value. But we shouldn’t harbor such antiquated, outmoded, outdated, and biased language to continue to be enshrined under the cloak of official legal doctrine any more in the Garden State.”

“By wiping these statutes off the books, we will erase from our state’s governing document any history of women’s status as citizens being deliberately limited by the government,” said Senator Beck, R-Monmouth and Mercer. “Our society has moved on from that era, and it is time the law books do the same.”

The laws which would be repealed are:

• The “Married Woman’s Property Acts,” a law first enacted in the 1800s to codify married women’s right to own, control, and dispose of property. At the time of enactment, the law was considered an advance for women over the common law which imposed restrictions on a women’s legal and property rights. However, the law was made obsolete with the passage of the New Jersey Constitution and the Law Against Discrimination, along with any number of federal laws outlining a woman’s rights as being equal to men’s rights;

• The “Bar by consent to ravisher law,” which provides that, “if a wife after being ravished, consent to the ravisher, she shall be disabled and forever barred from having her jointure or dower, unless her husband is voluntarily reconciled to her and permits her to dwell with him, in which case she shall be restored to her jointure or dower;”

• The “Immediate marriage if arrested upon criminal charge law,” which states, “if a person is arrested upon a criminal charge, involving an accusation of bastardy, rape, fornication or of having had carnal knowledge of an unmarried female, and the accused person consents to marry such female, any licensing officer is authorized to immediately issue a marriage license irrespective of the provisions of [marriage requirements].”

The Senators said that the laws reflect antiquated sentiments towards women, and should be removed from the official legal doctrine of the State of New Jersey.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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