Saying they have a constitutional right to view and be stimulated by nudity, a group of dancers, escort services, patrons and artists are suing to stop Salt Lake County from enforcing its sexually oriented business ordinance.
The law, passed in November, has not been enforced. The county has been negotiating with owners of the sexually oriented businesses, but those negotiations recently broke down, said Stephen R. Cook, the attorney representing the 20 businesses and individuals suing the county.Cook and his clients are asking for a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order against the county enforcing the ordinance.
He said the suit, filed in U.S. District Court, is not about sexual deviants wanting the right to their perversions. Rather, the case is about the county placing unusual restrictions on a type of business.
Those restrictions include requiring $2,000 bonds from business owners, requiring AIDS tests of employees and prohibiting touching between patrons and workers.
"If an artist has a model pose in his attic or goes up to Snowbird to have an artist pose nude under a tree, they are considered a sexually oriented business and must be bonded, licensed and pay huge fees and wait six weeks to two months for a license," Cook said.
He said the AIDS test requirements are offensive because they imply the employees are bad people.
"We object to the assumption that these people are prostitutes and have to have an AIDS test when there is no evidence of that," Cook said.
Deputy County Attorney Paul Maughan said the ordinance complies with U.S. Supreme Court rulings recognizing the right of such establishments to exist, within limits.
"We can't prohibit them, but we can regulate the method of operation, and that's what we're trying to do," Maughan said.
Cook said artists support the suit, although the art community did not join it. "But the suit is on their behalf even though they are not named as plaintiffs," he said.