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October 30, 2012

Sex, Law & the Popular Vote

Ballot propositions have a long history in California. Unfortunately,these propositions also have a  history of unfairly restricting unpopular groups. Of course LGBT people are definitely one of those groups.

Some of my older friends remember the first real hateful proposition: proposition 6 in the 70’s. This was to restrict the ability of gay men and lesbians to teach in schools. Thankfully, through the work of a large number financed activists this was defeated. I definitely remember all the AIDS hysteria propositions in the 80’s. It seemed that every 2 years another insane proposition was being voted on that would further stigmatize persons with HIV.

Of course, there’s also proposition 8. Hopefully that hateful piece will be overturned soon.

Now the propositions have turned to another unpopular group: sex workers. Proposition 35 is marketed to get tough on sex trafficking. Unfortunately, it’s poorly worded and contains provisions.

Of course, sex trafficking should be aggressively prosecuted. Anyone forced to do something that they don’t want to do should be prosecuted. Laws are already on the books to deal with this crime.

Unfortunately, this proposition contains chilling language that include commercial sex in the definition of human trafficking. Section 6(h)(2) defines commercial sex as exchanging anything of value being given or received by any person. Anything of value not only includes money, but could also include dinner and a movie – it’s not defined. With this very broad definition of ‘commercial sex’ I fear overzealous, politicized prosecutions. Is erotic coaching, like I offer, considered a sex act? I really don’t know. What about offering an erotic focused workshop? What about making a porn movie?

The text requires anyone convicted of this act to register for life as a sex offender. The sex offender registry in California is already overwhelmed. Adding many more non-threatening people to this registry only makes it more difficult to track those that actually pose a danger to others.

Interestingly, most of the major papers in California have come out against proposition 35 (LA Times example and many more.) They see it as poorly worded and over-reaching.

Please vote NO on 35.

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