On Friday, the Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a bill that would begin the process of allowing cities to regulate and zone nude dancing establishments. We believe sexually oriented businesses are bad for Oregon families, and neighborhoods and that HJR 42 would be a positive step toward allowing communities to zone sexually oriented businesses. It is not rare to see nude dancing establishments just up the street from a public library or park. Sexual addiction, fed by strip clubs, leads to escalation and a desire for increasingly graphic or violent activities, desensitization, and finally acting out sexually. This does nothing to strengthen families, or protect vulnerable women and children.
The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, which studies human trafficking solutions worldwide, identifies Portland as a hub for sex slavery because it has the most sexually oriented businesses per capita in the country. According to the Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force, most cases of human trafficking involve child prostitution. According to the FBI, 300,000 children are trafficked sexually with the United States each year.
Just last weekend, in the Registered Guard, Portland was again identified as a center of human trafficking. “”˜Portland is the most problematic area in the state for trafficking,’ [Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputy Keith] Bickford said. A robust sex industry and access to Interstate 5 are among the contributing factors.”
We can do little about I-5. But, we can allow cities to zone nude dancing, and perhaps discourage the sex industry by not allowing them to hide behind a poor interpretation of Oregon’s Constitution.
Certainly, Oregonians want free speech to be protected. But, we don’t believe that that means we must allow the sex industry to run rampant. We believe that with the force of the legislature behind it, there has to be some way to empower cities to control the sex industry in their neighborhoods.
Right now, Tualatin is fighting this battle. Last fall it was the Montavilla neighborhood in Portland. In 2006, it was Salem, in 2003, Nyssa. Oregon cities, and their citizens, want to have a say in where nude dancing is located. Young girls shouldn’t be propositioned when they’re walking down the street. Let’s allow families to live in safety. Let’s decrease the demand for human trafficking. Let’s address this problem.
We have a good idea that the hearing on HJR 42 was merely a token, and the bill will not come out of committee. However, if it brings us one step closer to figuring out how to fix the serious consequences that have been caused by our misguided and loose interpretation of free speech in Oregon, it would be a great step.
The legislature cannot responsibly continue to ignore the consequences that have erupted and the families that have been hurt because of the sex businesses that have been allowed to run rampant in Oregon.
Everyone says they don’t like it. Everyone says they want to do something about it. Yet the problem continues to escalate. Senator Devlin, and Representative Bruun should be thanked for once again bringing this to our attention.
But, just bringing it to our attention isn’t enough. Where is the leadership? Who will provide it so that Oregon can finally have a solution to this extreme and very serious problem.
The Oregon Family Council represents approximately 40,000 individual members, and 1800 churches around the state.