Fix This

Were you aware that rape in the third degree isn’t a crime in Washington if it’s done to a married partner? I was not. I had just assumed that by 2013, someone would have fixed that. Fortunately, Roger Goodman is offering a bill this session to make spousal rape a crime in all circumstances.

Washington is one a handful of states where marriage remains an absolute defense against allegations of some forms of rape and sexual assault, and lawmakers considered a proposal Tuesday that would change that.

House Bill 1108 would remove the spousal exemption from both rape in the third degree – in which no physical force is used – and from taking indecent liberties.

“There is no such thing as legitimate rape,” said Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland. “We have to get rid of this marital rape exception and catch up with the rest of the country.”

According to the article, he thinks it has a good chance of passage. I hope so, but I don’t see a Senate version (it could be that I missed it, the legislative search isn’t intuitive, at least to me). The Senate has promised no social issues this session, but this is the sort of social issue that the legislature needs to solve, like right fucking now.

So this seems like the sort of bill that public pressure could make sure to push to the governor’s desk. If you want to thank Roger Goodman for sponsoring it, you can here. If you want to find info on the bill, including the other co-sponsors, you can here. If you want to write your legislator, you can find them here. My email to my legislators is below the fold.

I’m writing about House Bill 1108, to make marital rape in the third degree a crime. When I read that it wasn’t a crime in Washington state, I was horrified! This seems like the sort of anachronism that should have been taken care of decades ago. So I’m asking both for your support of it and to help make sure doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of the budget negotiations.

Thank you

Carl Ballard


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    There was a time when you couldn’t sue your spouse, so if you got in a car accident with your husband or wife, your insurance company wouldn’t pay. This common law rule was intended to prevent fraud — you know, husband/wife colluding against the insurer. Washington courts changed it years ago. The spousal rape immunity does have a reason, likewise grounded in fear of dishonesty: A married couple has sex, then quarrel, then the wife settles scores by accusing her husband of rape. Like many (or all) hidebound legal constructs of the ancien regime, it’s probably time for this one to go, too. Also, one of these days, we should allow women, minorities, and Democrats to vote.

  2. 2

    rhp6033 spews:

    The absence of rape protections for a married woman also goes far back in time to the idea that a woman was the property of her husband. If she didn’t consent, he had the right to take it from her by force, if necessary. The rest, as RR sais, is that it continued out of fear of fraud and questions about how one would be fairly prosecuted in light of the rules prohibiting spouses from testifying against each other.

    Of course, what we are really talking about are cases where the husband and wife are seperated, and the rape occurs when the guy shows up and takes out his frustrations on his wife. It is usually accompanied by other forms of domestic violence.