July 2021 – For over 150 years, certain North Carolina laws have permitted one spouse to seek monetary compensation from a third party who committed adultery with the other spouse. Based on the biblical belief that marriage is both a legally and morally binding contract, these laws, often called heart balm torts, were once part of many states’ legal codes. Today, only six states including North Carolina still permit them.
In April, North Carolina House Bill 485 sought to erase the anti-adultery bill. HB 485 was sponsored by six Democratic legislators led by District 25 Rep. James D. Gailliard, who is also senior pastor of Word Tabernacle in Rocky Mount. But the bill never made its way out of the judiciary committee due to an initial split vote of 4-4. Thus, the anti-adultery law still stands.
Jerry Royall of North Carolina Family Policy Council applauded the protective actions of state lawmakers: “We in North Carolina and, of course around this country, would hope that our government would see how important it is to preserve and protect and defend the institution of marriage.”
scholarship.law.campbell.edu, 2021; ncleg.gov, 4/1/21;
newsobserver.com, 4/28/21; onenewsnow.com, 5/4/21