Is legalizing prostitution the next legal trend?

Posted by & filed under Prostitution.

 

Could legalizing prostitution be the next big U.S. trend? Eyes turn to California

Advocates for the decriminalization of prostitution may want to pay attention to what’s going on California, where three sex workers and one potential client have filed suit to overturn the state’s law banning prostitution and solicitation. These individuals represent a non-profit called ESPLER, or the Erotic Service Provider Legal Education and Research Project. This organization seeks to “empower the erotic community and advance sexual privacy rights through legal advocacy, education, and research.”

 

Is restricting consensual adult sexual activity unconstitutional?

The complaint that was filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco claims that California’s prohibition on the sex industry negatively impacts an individual’s rights to privacy and freedom of speech. More specifically, the suit contends that California’s current anti-prostitution law unfairly deprives individuals the right to private consensual activity, criminalizes the discussion of this activity between consenting adults, and unconstitutionally places restrictions on individuals’ right to freely associate. It makes note of recent cases overturning bans on sodomy and same-sex marriage.

Save for a few counties in Nevada, prostitution is illegal in the United States. However, across the globe many countries, such as Holland, Austria, France, Australia, etc…have successfully taken steps to decriminalize and/or regulate the industry. Others, such as Japan and Russia, generally turn a blind eye to the trading of money for consensual sex. But in the vast majority of areas of the United States, the “world’s oldest profession,” as it is commonly characterized, remains legally taboo — despite the fact that for many centuries, Americans, even those who are so-called prominent citizens, have engaged in or supported the practice.

 

Political leaders and prostitution

Let us also turn back the clock to 2007, when it became known that U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a prominent two-term Republican, was outed for visiting female prostitutes. Vitter is the front-running candidate this year for governor, and should he win, Louisiana’s top leader will be a man who knows the pleasures and enjoys the company of paid female companionship. Meanwhile, city, parish and state laws will continue to say that prostitution is an illegal vice, the ultra-conservatives who voted Vitter into power will continue to call it a sin and police will continue their selective enforcement of a victimless crime. Is it fair for our leaders to engage in such activities as the state prosecutes others who indulge in the same sort of behavior?

 

Should we legalize prostitution in Louisiana?

When considering what’s already occurred in other countries, parts of Nevada and the movement that’s afoot in California. I ask whether our society could become strengthened if the sex industry were legalized, regulated to reduce health risks and to protect minors, and taxed. Take the time to read the Louisiana statutes on prostitution (primarily Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:82, 14:83, 14:84). Then, consider whether we would all be better off by enacting a series of laws that take a progressive stand on the issue, using tax dollars from the industry to promote health and education.

In an effort to fight Draconian Rule, residents of various states have taken steps to legalize medical and recreational marijuana, approve same-sex marriages and the like. Could this effort in California spark a new battleground in the legislative-morality arena? Is it a harbinger of things to come? Stay tuned.

 

Elizabeth B. Carpenter is A New Orleans Sex Workers Defense Attorney. If you are in need of assistance, please feel free to contact our office.

 

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