SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project, a community-based coalition advancing sexual privacy rights through legal advocacy, has filed a lawsuit against California Attorney General Kamala Harris and four other Bay Area district attorneys, claiming the state’s 1961 anti-prostitution law violates the constitutional rights of sex workers.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, against state Attorney General Kamala Harris, and district attorneys in San Francisco, Alameda, Marin and Sonoma counties.
ESPLER President Maxine Doogan, herself a longtime prostitute, said sex workers are being discriminated against unconstitutionally, and the law violates their 1st and 14th Amendment rights.
“We want the court to recognize our right to free speech. We want the court to recognize our right to equal protection under the law,” she said.
Doogan said California didn’t outlaw prostitution until 1961, and it’s only illegal for reasons of morality. She said there’s no legitimate reason to make what she does for a living a crime.
“We’re getting rid of those useless laws so that we can get law enforcement to focus on more important violent crimes, where there are real victims,” said Doogan.
The complaint contends that California’s current anti-prostitution law unfairly deprives individuals the right to private consensual activity, criminalizes the discussion of this activity between consenting adults, and unconstitutionally places restrictions on individuals’ rights to freely associate.
None of the defendants have responded to requests for comment, but they haven’t been served with the suit yet.