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The Strangest Marriage Laws Across the Country

Women across the country are no stranger to weird laws that apply seemingly ridiculous constraints on them or their loved ones. But even if you’ve researched weird laws before, you may not have known these incredibly strange marriage laws that are still technically on the books across the country.

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Business Restrictions

The United States has seen plenty of legal battles regarding sexuality and business. Here are just a few of the stranger laws that have come out of these battles.

  • In California, you can only sell pillows that look like breasts if you’re over 1,000 feet from a highway.
  • In Alamosa, Colorado, you can’t open a “bawdy house,” which is a place that specifically allows rowdy sexual activity.
  • In Roswell, Georgia, you can feel free to open an erotic dancing establishment, but it has to stay closed on Sundays.
  • In Kansas, you’re considered to be “promoting” prostitution even if you just drive a sex worker to a client.
  • In Maryland, you can sell condoms out of vending machines, but only if they’re made of latex.
  • In Minnesota, lawmakers are so wary of prostitution in massage parlors that customers are only allowed inside between 10am and 6pm.
  • In Nevada, you can legally license a brothel, but you have to make sure that it’s at least 400 yards away from religious buildings.
  • In Texas, there’s a cap on sex toy ownership: you can’t have six or more “obscene devices.”

Laws About Marriage

Marriage has been around for millennia, and for as long as it’s been around, people have been making laws about it. Try these marriage laws on for size.

  • In Delaware, you can file for divorce if your marriage was based on a “jest or dare” from either person.
  • In Mississippi, it’s illegal to even tell someone about polygamy.
  • In Montana, it’s legal to have a “double proxy” marriage, where both people call in instead of being there physically.
  • In Nebraska, you have to tell your partner if you have an STD before marriage, or your partner can file for divorce.
  • In North Carolina, a couple can file for divorce if either person knew they were impotent when the marriage happened, but didn’t inform the other.
  • In South Carolina, it’s illegal to sweet-talk a woman into sleeping with you by promising her that you’ll marry her in the future.
  • In Utah, adultery can be a reason for a judge to deny one partner alimony.

Weird Bans — Or Lack Thereof

Some people just generally assume that something is banned or isn’t banned based on societal opinion. That’s why these weird sex and marriage laws tend to really astound people.

  • In Alabama, while incest is explicitly illegal, the definition of “incest” doesn’t mention first cousins.
  • In Hawaii, there’s nothing technically on the books regarding bestiality.
  • In Illinois, necrophilia is specifically outlawed — and it’s one of the few states to have a law banning it.
  • In Virginia, people are still technically banned from having sex with anyone except their spouse.

Nudity Laws

The decision as to what it “nudity” means has been a hotly debated subject in legal courts throughout the years. These states have some pretty weird takes on the subject.

  • In Louisiana, it’s only illegal to go streaking if the person is doing it with the “intent to arouse others.”
  • In New Mexico, a person is considered not to violate nudity laws if the genitals and areolas are covered.
  • In Kenosha, Wisconsin, the definition of public nudity includes that all coverage must be “fully opaque.

Laws About Minors

It’s important to protect minors, but some states use that protection to write some pretty weird laws.

  • In Idaho, schools are required to enforce specifically how sex is related to “the miracle of life.”
  • In Oregon, lawmakers accidentally banned minors from seeing classical artwork after forbidding minors to see anything with nudity or sexual content.
  • In South Dakota, it’s illegal for a minor to sext even with another minor.
  • In Tennessee, sex education is only required in areas with very high rates of teen pregnancy.
  • In West Virginia, teenagers need parental approval for birth control, but a judge can make an exception if a teen “demonstrates maturity.”

Public Behavior

Being decent in public is an important part of many sex and marriage laws around the United States. But the idea of “public decency” has changed so much over the years that these laws seem a little strange.

  • In Florida, it’s only illegal to live with your non-married partner if you’re doing it “lewdly and lasciviously.”
  • In Michigan, it’s illegal to have sex in a car unless you’re doing it on your own property.
  • In New Jersey, no one can use “a word, sign, or gesture” to indicate sexual interest.
  • In Sag Harbor, New York, the laws are old enough that it specifically mentions a ban on undressing in wagons.
  • In Ohio, it’s only illegal to solicit someone for a same-sex affair if you know they would be offended by it.
  • In Oklahoma, bar owners are legally required to stop people from even pretending to have sex with an animal.
  • In Morrisville, Pennsylvania, an old law mandates that women who wear makeup and men who shave have “shaving and cosmetic buttons.”
  • In Lynden, Washington, the city still mandates that no one can dance where alcoholic beverages are served.