Tampa Area Adult Businesses File Lawsuit Challenging SBA's 'Prurient' Clause

Tampa Area Adult Businesses File Lawsuit Challenging SBA's 'Prurient' Clause

TAMPA, Fla. — A group of Tampa Bay, Florida adult businesses have filed a lawsuit challenging the “prurient” clause in the Small Business Administration’s loan application form, which can be interpreted to discriminate against sexually oriented businesses.

According to a Tampa Bay Times report, Fantasyland Adult Supercenter and Charlotte’s Cabaret in Tampa, Silks in Palm Harbor and Diamond Dolls in Clearwater, along with several other adult businesses in Florida, “are suing the Small Business Administration, its administrator and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in federal court in Tampa.”

The lawsuit, the report continues "calls the policy regarding adult businesses discriminatory and unconstitutional and says employees were 'engaged in First Amendment protected expression.'"

As XBIZ reported in March when the loans were first offered by the federal government, the “prurient” clause on the SBA loan application form replicates mid-1990s, Clinton-era language designed to discriminate against sexually oriented businesses.

The form compels applicants to declare that they do not “present live performances of a prurient sexual nature or derive directly or indirectly more than de minimis gross revenue through the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, of a prurient sexual nature.”

The word “prurient” is an imprecise, obscure word that means “appealing to unhealthy sexual interests” and was used by the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark 1973 ruling. Members of the adult entertainment community and First Amendment lawyers have pointed out that people who do not consider their sexual expression “unhealthy” are exempt from application of the “prurient” clause.

The Florida establishments suing the SBA had to close in March due to COVID-19 precautions, and asked the federal government for help through the SBA’s $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program.

Their applications, according to the Tampa Bay Times, were denied.

Their lawsuit contends that their businesses “appeal to a healthy interest in basic human sexuality.”

There are similar lawsuits pending in Michigan and Wisconsin, where judges granted preliminary injunctions in favor of the loan applicants.

The Florida lawsuit, the Tampa Bay Times continues, “similarly asks for an injunction and for the businesses to be considered for the loans on their merits.”

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