Ballot Initiative/Resolution on Decriminalizing Prostitution

Below is the resolution being promoted in San Francisco and Oakland by the Sex Workers Outreach Project. (We delivered copies to Oakland City Council members and SF Supervisors on December 17 and are asking them to put it on the ballot for voter approval.) Although I had no hand in writing it, I was very pleased upon seeing the draft to find it appears to be a proposal that Libertarians can wholeheartedly endorse. Even references to safety and taxation are couched in language making it clear that the resolution is *not* saying people have a "right" to safety, only the right to pursue it, and that persons should have the right to report earnings on sex work to tax agencies (i.e. not necessarily the *obligation* to do so!)

  I later learned the probable reason why the document is so good -- the author, Robyn Wagner (not to be confused with SWOP director Robyn Few), is reportedly a libertarian. I'm still unsure as to whether she is a party member, or how to get hold of her however. If anyone has that information, please let me know.

  Anyway, I strongly encourage Libertarian activists in chapters across California to take this document to your local City Council members or County Supervisors and seek to have them submit it to the voters, or failing that, pass it as a resolution themselves. You can also print out copies for use as an outreach flier to sex workers in your communities, identifying the author as a libertarian and including local, state, and/or national LP contact info.

  I further urge the LPC Executive Committee to endorse this measure at the state level ASAP.

  Sex workers are people who are clear victims of government laws, tend to have a rather libertarian outlook particularly in regard to this occupation-related grievance, and are largely young, female, and culturally liberal -- all attributes that place them squarely among a segment of the population that the Libertarian Party most needs to improve its connections with.

Yours in liberty,
              <<< Starchild >>>

P.S. - LPC Political Prisoners Support Committee Chair Hal Chiprin and I believe LPSF Chair Chris Maden are also on the SWOP list (swopusa@...). I encourage you to join as well and add more libertarian voices to this rapidly coalescing effort.

BALLOT TITLE

Shall the City of (your city) affirm the importance of privacy and autonomy, express its disapproval of laws which prohibit consensual adult sexual behavior, and encourage the legislators of the State of California to repeal such laws?

TEXT OF RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, Article I of the Constitution of California decrees that all people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy; and

WHEREAS, The Supreme Court of the United States has recently lauded "emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex," that people "are entitled to respect for their private lives ," and the "State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime"; and

WHEREAS, Laws that make criminals of adults for having consensual sex have a profound effect on the safety and well-being of those adults, with all that imports for the dignity of the persons charged. When victims of such laws receive criminal convictions, collateral consequences always follow; and

WHEREAS, Such consequences include the marginalization of those individuals, negatively impacting their safety and access to health education and services, and preventing them from obtaining other employment due to the stigma and status of a criminal conviction;

WHEREAS, Providing sexual services for negotiated compensation by and to consenting adults is a legitimate trade like other vocations in which people exchange skills for payment; and

WHEREAS, When the provision of consensual sexual services by adults is made criminal by the law of the State, that declaration in and of itself is an invitation to subject prostitutes to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres. It demeans their lives and encourages their victimization, especially by physical violence against them;

WHEREAS, The harms of such sanctioned discrimination are best evidenced by the brutal hate crimes perpetrated by Gary Leon Ridgway (the Green River Killer) when he murdered 48 women. His chilling confession reveals, "I picked prostitutes as my victims because I hate most prostitutes ... and because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught." Prostitutes are human beings. Criminalizing their work implies they are second class citizens -- subhuman -- and thus legitimate targets of violence and hatred; and

WHEREAS, Persons who provide sexual services should have the right to declare sex work as a legitimate vocation and source of income to financial institutions including lending organi zations, credit facilities, and the California Franchise Tax Board; and

WHEREAS, The American Law Institute promulgated a Model Penal Code and made clear that it did not recommend or provide for "criminal penalties for consensual sexual relations conducted in private." It justified its decision on three grounds: (1) The prohibitions undermined respect for the law by penalizing conduct many people engaged in; (2) the statutes regulated private conduct not harmful to others; and (3) the laws were arbitrarily enforced and thus invited the danger of blackmail.

WHEREAS, Persons should never be forced into having sex or doing any other act against their will, whether by force or fraud, and whether they are adults or children.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the People of the City of (your choice) that no person's human or civil rights should be violated on the basis of their trade, occupation, work, calling, or profession.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that that the Legislature of the State of California should repeal all laws criminalizing consenting sex between or among adults in private whether for money or any other consideration.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that repealing these laws would encourage access to health services, and support HIV prevention education and other community health initiatives.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the City directs the City Clerk to transmit this resolution to all City departments, the courts, the Governor and the Attorney General of the State of California, to all members of the California Congressional delegation, the United States Attorney General, and the President of the United States of America.