Decriminalize Prostitution Now Coalition
Your Tax Dollars Are Being Wasted Ruining Citizens Lives
Instead of fighting real crime

California Sex Workers Launch/Plan Initiatives To Decriminalize
In Berkeley, San Francisco & Los Angeles
Let the fight begin and others from Across America
 Should Fight for Decriminalization in other Cities and States

From Berkley Daily Planet 1/16/04
Come November Berkeley voters could be asked to start the ball rolling on the legalization of prostitution in California. On Thursday a Berkeley-based sex worker advocacy group filed papers to place a non-binding resolution on the city's November ballot calling on the state legislature to repeal laws against selling sex. Supporters have 180 days to collect 3,000 signatures for the resolution to go before Berkeley voters.

The Berkeley initiative is part of a statewide drive by the Sex Workers Outreach Project to drum up popular support for an overhaul for the state's prostitution laws." We know we won't get Sacramento's attention unless we show we have the support of the communities," said SWOP Director Robyn Few.

Similar ballot drives are planned for Oakland and Los Angeles. Few also expected the resolution to pass the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Dave's Comments
I encourage support of this effort which will be followed closely in other cities across America. The fight begins for individual sexual freedoms supported by the recent Lawrence Supreme Court decision vs. the Religious Right groups that will no doubt begin a massive anti-sexwork campaign.

A landmark part in my view, in the Lawrence case is that laws of personal conduct can not be based on "morality".  That is a landmark change since previously Courts (including recent 11th Circuit decision but before Lawrence) have upheld the right of communities to "protect morality".  Specifically the Lawrence case says, "A law branding one class of persons as criminal solely based on the State's moral disapproval of that class and the conduct associated with that class runs contrary to the values of the Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause, under any standard of review." [O'Connor, concurring in part, 02-102, June 2003

Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) focuses on safety, dignity, diversity and the changing needs of sex industry workers, to foster an environment which enables and affirms individual choices and occupational rights.

For more details and updates see

Private Sexwork vs. Street Hooker Issue
While I support their attempt to decriminalize ALL prostitution and hope it is successful, public solicitation laws would still stand which would still outlaw street hookers, which is a major and legitimate public nuisance issue. If it can be argued the solicitation laws still protect neighborhoods from hookers in front of their homes and businesses, this might be enough to get public support.

Because I think there is far more public support for only private sexwork, my proposal would be to make it clear only private prostitution is to be decriminalized.  Private sexwork has legal support from Lawrence which also says: "Liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places. In our tradition the State is not omnipresent in the home. And there are other spheres of our lives and existence, outside the home, where the State should not be a dominant presence. Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds. Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct." [Kennedy, writing for the majority, 02-102, June 2003]

Safety of Prostitutes Argument
SWOP also uses the emotional issue of how because of the current legal status prostitutes are at risk for being murdered, abused, unfairly treated by police, customers and bad clients. In the case of the Phoenix rapist, who choked sexworkers to the point of passing out,  victims told me they were just as afraid of the police as the rapist, until we found friendly LE that didn't care about their profession, only that they were victims of a terrible rapist. Clearly it was the legal status of their profession that the rapist counted on for them not to report it to Police.  Fortunately we got victims to come forward and the attacker has been indicted by a Grand Jury on many felony counts and is held in jail without bond. 

SWOP has a Green River Victims memorial page dedicated to the 48 murdered victims of Gary L. Ridgway who were prostitutes in Seattle. A major part of SWOP's campaign argues that with decriminalization and more society acceptance of sexworkers, these terrible murders and many others of prostitutes would be much less likely.

City vs. State Prostitution Laws
One of the greatest challenges is that in the U.S. most every city and all states have anti-prostitution laws.  So while the San Francisco Citizens Task Force recommended decriminalization in the 1990's nothing was accomplished since the State of California would come in and enforce the State's prostitution laws, if a city didn't. 

The biggest challenge will be at the state level.  But the movement for sexual rights is beginning at the city level and if successful might with voter education and support  (not easy to obtain) force State Legislature's to eventually also take action or be forced to by statewide voter initiates.  However, this will be a very long, hard, costly battle.  But the battle has begun and I am very supportive.

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