Until yesterday, "But we're married!" was a perfectly adequate defense in our state to the charge of rape in the third degree, as well as the euphemistically named crime "indecent liberties." Fortunately, Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill on Wednesday closing that awful loophole in Washington State law.

Use of force isn't a prerequisite of being convicted of rape in the third degree, which simply requires that the victim "did not consent... to sexual intercourse with the perpetrator and such lack of consent was clearly expressed by the victim's words or conduct," or that a suspect exhibited a "threat of substantial unlawful harm to property rights of the victim." But until yesterday, it also required that the victim be "not married to the perpetrator." Marital rape is a form of partner abuse, and I can only imagine the horror of reporting what would otherwise be a third-degree rape by your spouse only to discover that it was not, in fact, a crime.

Like many states, we eliminated marriage as a defense against first- and second-degree rape in the '80s. This new law will eliminate jury instructions like number two, here:


Thank god, Washington. Never have I been so happy to see a good old-fashioned strikethrough.