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Guest Blog: Georgia voters are deciding on a ballot measure this election, and the kink community needs to be ready for it.

By Liz Harrison

This November, beyond voting for president, it appears that the residents of Georgia will be deciding whether or not they want to add a new tax. Normally, this sort of thing wouldn’t be mentioned around here, but this one is directly related to kinky sex. Some politicians have decided that they have a problem with strip clubs, and other forms of adult entertainment, so they have pushed a ballot measure called “Amendment 2” that will allow the state to collect fines from individuals found guilty of certain sex crimes, and “assessments” from adult entertainment establishments.

The wording of this measure is extremely vague, so it is likely that this could expand to include any BDSM groups that have a regular meeting place for lifestyle activities.

(o) The General Assembly may provide by general law for additional penalties in any case in any court in this state in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and may impose assessments on adult entertainment establishments as defined by law; and such appropriated amount shall not lapse as required by Article III, Section IX, Paragraph IV(c) and shall not be subject to the limitations of subparagraph (a) of this Paragraph, Article III, Section V, Paragraph II, Article VII, Section III, Paragraph II(a), or Article VII, Section III, Paragraph IV. The General Assembly may provide by general law for the allocation of such assessments and additional penalties to the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund for the specified purpose of meeting any and all costs, or any portion of the costs, of providing care and rehabilitative and social services to individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited. The General Assembly may provide by general law for the administration of such fund by such authority as the General Assembly shall determine.

Of course, this ballot measure is enjoying a great deal of support, because it’s “for the children.” But, that means that the people of Georgia are being sold on giving an extreme amount of power to the state, including the creation of an entirely new government bureaucracy. Those powers also include the ability of law enforcement to seize private property from citizens before they are convicted of any crime.

As for the implications for people in “kink world,” the vague terminology of this amendment could be used in multiple ways against them. The first is the yearly “assessment” on adult entertainment establishments, which could theoretically be enforced on organizations that happen to lease or own non-residential property specifically for the purpose of hosting lifestyle events. Otherwise, with the exception of acts involving children, depending on the circumstances and what is said to law enforcement personnel if they were called to lifestyle event, just about every other crime listed in this amendment could be placed in the list of charges against anyone taken into custody. That’s not taking into account what officers “assume” is going on in that situation, which of course, could just as easily cause a lifestyler to end up with a laundry list of charges.

The primary purpose of this amendment really isn’t about helping children, but it is about shutting down adult entertainment facilities in Georgia. It amounts to a sin tax, with strip clubs as the primary target. Of course, if this ballot measure passes (which it looks like it will), it will almost immediately face challenges in court, just like a law forbidding women between the ages 18 and 21 from stripping in Louisiana. And there will be unintended consequences, probably at least a little similar to those seen in the Pelican State. Georgia could see increases in the activities that this law theoretically is meant to prevent or at least alleviate – exploitation of children and sex trafficking. Putting additional legal limitations on sex work usually does lead to a larger underground economy in that sector, and there are no rules followed in that world. The government may force some clubs to close, but the workers who lose their jobs will possibly end up turning to prostitution instead, as girls in Louisiana said they were doing.

While it’s probably too late to gain enough to traction in Georgia to prevent Amendment 2 from being passed, it is important for the kink community to be aware of what is happening there. Laws of this kind are getting more common, and it is important to either prevent them from getting passed in the first place, or be ready to battle against them in the courts. It should go without saying, it also means that it’s time for members of the kink community in Georgia to more careful than usual, and try to avoid getting mired in penalties from this law.