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Sex Shops Peeved Over Ordinance

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Dec 29, 2003 12:00 AM PST    Text size: 
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Two video store operators have decided to stand up to a law that is threatening to drive them out of business.

The operators of the Adult Video Megaplex and Adult Video are crying foul against repeated efforts by city vice officers to interfere with their business operations.

The two companies, which each run respective adult entertainment chain stores throughout the city, filed a lawsuit in San Antonio court this week accusing law enforcement of impinging on their right to free speech by enforcing a city ordinance that the two store owners believe is without purpose.

Less than a month ago, according to the San Antonio Express-News, city officials began ticketing clerks and managers at the adult video stores and threatening them with arrests based on seemingly irrelevant violations; a deliberate attempt, say the store owners, to drive them out of business.

The two adult store owners claim in their lawsuit that the city's ordinance that regulates adult entertainment businesses stifles free speech, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

The city of Antonio plays host to many adult entertainment businesses and has put into law an ordinance that attempts to control some of the "crimes associated with" adult venues.

The city claims that its attempt to enforce the ordinance, which regulates store lighting and video viewing, among many other building and safety codes, is an attempt to regulate porn shops and strip clubs and prevent the "secondary effects of adult arcades, such as casual and anonymous sexual encounters."

The two shop owners claim that the city is using the ordinance as an excuse to infringe on their right to free speech and that city official's demands have nothing to do with the law's intended purpose, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

Additionally, the store owners are seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, declaring certain laws waged against adult entertainment establishments as "unconstitutional."

The judge's response to the lawsuit was to put a temporary hold on all ticketing at the two establishments until a hearing is underway by the first month of the year.

The attorney representing both stores was quoted as saying: "We provide a service, a place for adults to go see adult entertainment. It's not obscenity. It's protected speech."

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