Colorado Defeats Porn Bill

Mickey O'Rourke

Denver, CO – On Friday, The Colorado State House of Representatives narrowly defeated by a 33-32 vote a proposal to ban pornographic displays that could be viewed by minors. HB1078, which was introduced by Rep. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, would have banned all pornographic displays – such as showing an ‘adult’ magazine cover on a newsstand – as well as the sale and dissemination of ‘sexually explicit material’ to minors under the age of 18.

It was one of the bill’s three provisions, the one which would have banned “displays harmful to minors” which caused the original bill’s defeat and subsequent amendment. While Harvey pointed out that 43 states, as well as some Colorado cities, already have such laws on the books, opponents claimed that including such a provision would cause “great expense” to bookstores and other retailers. It would also require store owners to become censors, deciding what is – and what isn’t – sexually explicit, and then to conceal the sexually explicit materials either behind the sales counter, away from any display windows, or within an opaque cover – posing a burden that could make adult materials ‘more trouble than they’re worth’ to many store owners, thus limiting adult access to sexually explicit materials by default.

“I'm disappointed that a majority of the body voted to allow store owners to continue to display pornography,” said Harvey, commenting on the provision stripped from his bill by an amendment that was sponsored by Reps. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, and Ann McGihon, D-Denver. Harvey added that “The bill still makes it illegal to sell and to disseminate pornography to minors.”

The House went through much debate over recent pornography rulings made by the U.S. Supreme Court. While Harvey opined that the Court had recently said that pornography could be defined as material which is ‘offensive to the average person’ – a judgment based on community standards – the Boyd-McGihon amendment to his bill replaced the standard “average person” with “reasonable person” and went on to state that no single standard could apply to every community.

While Harvey will not attempt to restore his bill’s display provision before the final House vote next week, the controversy surrounding HB1078 may be revived in the state Senate where Sen. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, will present the bill before the Senate, and perhaps attempt to revive the display clause.