Could prostitution become legal in California?

photo by Eliya, used under Creative Commons

photo by Eliya, used under Creative Commons

On November 4th, San Francisco will decide if they should stop enforcing laws against prostitution. While it doesn’t legalize the world’s oldest profession – state law specifically prohibits prostitution – it would keep prostitues, johns, and pimps from fear of arrest or prosecution for partaking in related activity.

Measure K: Changing the Enforcement of Laws Related to Prostitution and Sex Workers City of San Francisco, as it will appear on the ballot reads:

Shall the City: stop enforcing laws against prostitution; stop funding or supporting the First Offender Prostitution Program or any similar anti-prostitution program; enforce existing criminal laws that prohibit crimes such as battery, extortion and rape, regardless of the victim’s status as a sex worker; and fully disclose the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against sex workers?

Among the measure’s more high profile supporters are the San Francisco Democratic Party, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, State Senator Carole Migden, and Jeffrey Klausner, director of STD control and prevention for the San Francisco’s health department.

Opponents include the San Francisco Chronicle, Mayor Gavin Newsom, and the Coalition for SF Neighborhoods,

One argument against Measure K is that it would legalize child prostitution, which may be an issue of semantics: in late December, Gov. Schwarzenegger decriminalized minors involved in the sex trade,  and  would treat them as victims – instead of charges and prison time, underage prostitutes would be connected with counselors and other services.

While Measure K would make California only the third state with lax prostitution laws, besides Nevada and Rhode Island, there is no indication its influence will reach beyond the Bay Area, let alone to Southern California. From the LA Times:

No proposal along the lines of Proposition K is on the horizon for Los Angeles.

“I think L.A. is many years behind San Francisco in terms of sexual politics, sexual rights,” said Mariko Passion, founder of the Sex Workers Outreach Project Los Angeles. “To have an opinion about what sex worker rights really mean, the awareness is not there at all.”

Correction: An original draft of this entry mistakenly listed and Jeffrey Klausner as being an opponent of Measure K.

9 responses to “Could prostitution become legal in California?

  1. Hi, this is incorrect. Dr. Jeffrey Klausner has endorsed Proposition K. The California STD Controller’s Association has also endorsed Prop K. Even the Secretary General of the United Nations has said that all nations should decriminalize prostitution as a strategy to reduce HIV/AIDS.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/08/EDTK12P3QO.DTL&hw=Klausner&sn=001&sc=1000

    Here is the link to Dr. Klausner’s article in the Chronicle.

  2. Corrected. Apologies for the error.

  3. Wow. That’s an interesting proposition. I find it hard to believe that many would support ignoring certain laws to be enforced. Seems like that (if passed) would end up in the state court system for cherry picking which laws to enforce.

    What are the current polling results for support/oppose on this measure?

  4. I searched high and low and couldn’t find polling info for this, unfortunately. A rep pushing for this to pass was also unaware of any polls existing.

  5. i live in sonoma country, CA, and am sad that i cant vote on this…

    After doing an extensive research project into the issue of decriminalizing prostitution, it became clear to me that for everyones safety this is the best way to go, particularly in places where it happens often…

    -prostitution being illegal doest stop the practice,

    -if ‘working girls’ didn’t have to worry about the legality of their profession, they would be free and confident to report abuse and other crimes…

    (i could go on and on, but i wont)

    just ran across this site and thought i’d comment…

  6. On Tuesday, November 11th at 10 p ET Melissa Francis examines the world of high-end prostitution in the CNBC Original “Dirty Money: The Business of High-End Prostitution”. In every city in America sex is for sale and much of it operates in plain view. But, there’s one corner of the trade protected like none other… the business of high-end prostitution where clients can spend hundred of thousands of dollars each year. It’s a secret world with rules and practices that will change everything you think you know about the buying and selling of sex. Join Melissa as she ventures into this secret world.

    For web extras visit http://dirtymoney.cnbc.com.

  7. if all this emphasis and money was spent fixing the real problems of this country we would be in a better situation. HOW STUPID ARE YOU. THERE ARE WORST THINGS GOING ON BEHIND THE CLOSED DOORS OF THE EXACT IDIOTS (MEN) WHO MAKE THESE LAWS. HOW IN THE HELL IS IT PERFECTLY LEGAL TO GO TO A BAR PICK UP A STRANGER AND HAVE SEX FOR FREE , BUT IF YOU GET PAID IT ISN’T. PEOPLE ARE LOOSING HOMES AND JOBS BECAUSE OF THE DECISIONS ALL THE SO CALLED SMART PEOPLE MADE. WHAT HAPPENS TO THEM? NOTHING THEY GO ON WITH THEIR LAVISHED LIFESTYLES AND SOMEONE ELSE HAS TO FIX THIS CRAP WE ARE IN. WAKE UP PEOPLE. JUST THOUGHT ID COMMENT.

  8. In the areas where prostituition is leagle the rate of sex crimes in general (such as rape … etc…) is considerably lower PER CAPATA.

    Funny how that little thing is overlooked.

  9. This truly a no brainer,Of course it should be legal!You wanna fix the economy,Lower crime,
    Lower the spread of disease,Legalize it!
    What the hell?How stupid are we anyway with all this religious bullshit! Morals and sex
    have very little to do with each other.I’m rambling!Legalize it!It should be a right not a privilage!

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