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Blanchflower v. Blanchflower

Blanchflower v. Blanchflower, 150 N.H. 226, is a landmark decision by the New Hampshire Supreme Court which ruled that sexual relations between two females, one of whom is married, does not constitute adultery because it is not technically sexual intercourse.[1]



In 2003, David Blanchflower, a professor from Dartmouth College, filed for divorce from his wife on the grounds that she was having an adulterous affair with Ms. Robin Mayer of West Windsor, Vermont. As in most cases of divorce involving alleged adultery, the professor was seeking an "at fault" ruling against his wife. His wife admitted that she was having an affair with Mayer, but Mayer argued that the affair did not constitute adultery under New Hampshire law.[2]


After a lower court initially sided with David Blanchflower, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled in favor of the two women, concluding that adultery must meet the definition of sexual intercourse under New Hampshire law. In the 3-2 ruling, the majority determined that sexual relations between two females cannot constitute sexual intercourse and, therefore, the affair was not adultery. The decision was based on the 1961 edition of Webster's Third New International Dictionary, which defines sexual intercourse as coitus (penile-vaginal sex).[1][3][4]


Reactions to the ruling were mixed, with some gay-rights groups condemning the ruling for its failure to recognize sex between people of the same gender. Other gay rights groups viewed the ruling as a victory under the law for one lesbian couple after many years of discrimination. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), an LGBT legal rights advocacy group, stated: "Both the majority opinion and the dissent made clear that this case was not about the status of same-sex relationships in society or any formal recognition same-sex relationships receive, and the opinions were both, on the whole, respectful of same-sex intimacy."[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "New Hampshire high court says lesbian sex not adultery". The Advocate. November 12, 2003. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ "New Hampshire High Court Tackles Gay Adultery Question". Fox News. April 21, 2003. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Blanchflower v. Blanchflower and Mayer". Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). December 31, 2003. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  4. ^ "In the Matter of David G. Blanchflower and Sian E. Blanchflower". New Hampshire Judicial Branch/ November 7, 2003. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 

Further readingEdit

  • Catron, Bethany (2005). "If You Don't Think This Is Adultery, Go Ask Your Spouse: The New Hampshire Supreme Court's Faulty Interpretation of Adultery in In re Blanchflower". U. Dayton L. Rev. 30 (3): 339–355. 
  • Nicolas, Peter (2011). "The Lavender Letter: Applying the Law of Adultery to Same-Sex Couples and Same-Sex Conduct". Fla. L. Rev. 63 (1): 97–128. SSRN 1651387 .