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Spitting, fortune telling and cursing while driving: Weird and antiquated Maryland laws

A spate of new laws went into effect Oct. 1, including a ban on “sextortion” and gay conversion therapy.

But some unusual old laws remain on the books in our area.

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» Fortunetelling is illegal in Baltimore. Violators can be fined $500 or imprisoned for up to a year.

» Adultery is prohibited under Maryland law. The penalty is $10 for anyone convicted.

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» Across the state, 15-year-old girl can get married only if she has the consent of her parents, and if a physician has examined her and found that she is either pregnant or has already given birth to a child.

» First cousins can tie the knot in Maryland, but you can’t marry any one of the following people: a grandparent, parent, child, sibling, grandchild, grandparent’s spouse, spouse’s grandparent, parent’s sibling, stepparent, spouse’s parent, spouse’s child, child’s spouse, sibling’s child or grandchild’s spouse.

» Under Maryland law, civilians are not allowed to buy, wear or sell military uniforms or “objects prescribed by law for the use of the organized militia.”

Many of the hundreds of Maryland laws that take effect Monday extend protections for women. One explicitly bans using threats of shame or economic harm to coerce a person into having sex. Others address sexual assault, workplace harassment and the rights of female inmates.

» Baltimore law lays out benefits only for the widows of firefighters — a legacy from the days when there were no women in the fire department.

» In Baltimore, it’s illegal for any minor not employed by the railroad company to jump on or from any railroad car while the car is in motion.

» Baltimore law carefully regulates who can advertise a “going out of business sale,” and violations of any of the law’s provisions can incur a fine of up to $500.

» Under most circumstances, Maryland landlords can’t prohibit tenants from hanging a clothesline.

» It’s also illegal in Baltimore for a commercial laundry to operate between midnight and 6 a.m.

» No person may spit on a sidewalk, or on a hotel lobby floor in Baltimore.

» It’s illegal to curse while driving or walking down the sidewalk in Rockville.

» It’s illegal to import wild rabbits or hares — dead or alive — into Baltimore for the purpose of selling them.

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» Oral sex is technically illegal under Maryland law. This also applies to animals.

» The law also makes anal sex illegal for all.

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