November 7, 2007

From the Desk of Phil Burress
President of Citizens for Community Values
Citizens’ E-Courier · November 7, 2007

The Community Defense Act:  In effect and enforceable!

Let there be no confusion!

Sub.S.B.16, the Community Defense Act (CDA), is the law in Ohio.

Most of you know the story:  CDA became the law in Ohio on June 4, 2007 and was scheduled to become effective 90 days later, September 4.

While remaining the law in Ohio, CDA did not become effective on September 4 as scheduled because the sex industry mounted an effort to force a referendum on the law by collecting valid signatures of 241,366 Ohio registered voters on an elector petition.

The story of their signature collection effort has been well publicized.  It is a story of criminal fraud and disgraceful deception.  It is a story prolonged – at taxpayer expense – by frivolous lawsuits.

But since October 17, the day Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner certified that the Vote No on Issue One committee had fallen some 60,000 signatures short of the 241,366 required for a referendum, CDA has been in effect and enforceable.

Are Ohio’s sexually oriented businesses abiding by the new law?
Reports are that in many Ohio communities, the answer to both questions is – No!

Should we be surprised, especially in light of their fraudulent referendum effort, that Ohio’s sex businesses are not abiding by the law?  Of course not.

Are law enforcement officials enforcing the law?

The maxim holds true:  A law is only as good as the level of enforcement behind it.

For the Community Defense Act to have the positive, protective impact that it was designed to have – the positive effect that spurred the cooperation of 75 percent of our state elected representatives in working together to pass of the law – enforcement at the local level will be necessary!

Those of you who live in communities affected by sex businesses can help move the law into this crucial enforcement phase.  Here’s how:

First – Have a clear understanding of CDA’s statewide regulations.  These are the essentials that you need to know:

  • All sexually oriented businesses in Ohio, except those that have a liquor license, must close between the hours of midnight and 6:00AM.  That’s all pornographic bookstores, all massage parlors, all pornographic video stores, all peep booths, and all strip clubs except those that have a liquor license.
  • Those clubs that have a liquor license may stay open to the time designated in their license (usually 2:30AM at the latest) but must cease nude entertainment after midnight.
  • In all sexually oriented businesses – no exceptions – employees while nude or seminude cannot have physical contact with patrons.

Then – If sexually oriented businesses in your communities do not appear to be abiding by these regulations, contact the Police Department or Sheriff’s office.  Ask them to investigate the subject businesses and enforce the law.

Finally – If law enforcement does not respond to your request, contact your city or township officials.

Law enforcement officials and city/township officials must know that we consider enforcement of CDA a priority.

Please keep us informed as to your efforts to insist on enforcement of the Community Defense Act.

Beyond statewide regulations…

Most of the publicity surrounding the Community Defense Act has focused on those statewide regulations outlined above.  However, the new law does a lot more to help communities protect themselves from the harms brought by sexually oriented businesses.

In 1986 the U.S. Supreme Court recognized (in Renton v. Playtime, Inc.) that sexually oriented businesses bring “adverse secondary effects” to communities; specifically, increased crime, decreased property values, and urban blight.  Whereas the high court ruled that communities couldn’t prevent such businesses from locating within their boundaries, it also ruled that communities could enact ordinances to zone, license and regulate sexually oriented businesses to protect themselves from those documented adverse effects.

For years, many communities – especially smaller municipalities and townships – have avoided or delayed enacting regulations to protect themselves from sex businesses for two reasons.

First, sex business law is a specialized body of law requiring expertise in development – expertise that small communities do not have and cannot afford to hire.  Secondly, sex businesses historically have intimidated communities by threatening lawsuits against any regulations passed.  Again, communities cannot afford to risk these expensive lawsuits.

CDA to the rescue!

In addition to those statewide regulations, CDA gives townships and municipalities assistance from the Ohio Attorney General in developing sound laws to zone, license and regulate sex businesses, and also protection (indemnification) in the event the laws developed with their assistance are challenged in court.

With the expense and intimidation factors now removed, all communities should move forward with their own regulations to zone, license and regulate sex businesses to the full extent of the law.

If you agree with our efforts and would like to help with the many expenses that we have incurred during the CDA campaign, please click here.