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Weinberg-Beck Bill To Repeal Antiquated Laws On The Status Of Women Approved In Senate

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 approved by the Senate today by a vote of 37-0.

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“The legal status and rights of women have come a long way since these demeaning, outdated laws were actually enforced,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “It’s time to retire these antiquated reminders of the struggles that women faced in the fight to achieve equality from New Jersey law books, once and for all. We shouldn’t harbor such biased, obsolete and offensive language to be contained within the confines of official legal doctrine any more in New Jersey.”

“It is bad enough these laws existed at all, much less remain on the books,” said Senator Beck, R- Monmouth and Mercer. “Our society has moved on from an era where the rights of women were deliberately limited by the Government, 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The laws which would be repealed are: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 Assembly for consideration. Identical legislation is pending review in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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