When David H. Petraeus resigned as CIA director because of adultery, he was widely understood to be acknowledging a misdeed but not a crime. Yet in his state of residence, Virginia, as in 22 others, adultery remains a criminal act, a vestige of the way US law has anchored legitimate sexual activity within marriage. In most of those states, including New York, adultery is a misdemeanor. But in others — Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin — it is a felony, though rarely prosecuted.
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