A bill that could prohibit teenage boys from wearing tight jeans drew a swarm of opposition last week in the Montana Legislature.
Sen. Ric Holden (R-Glendive) wants the state to license outlets that sell dirty books, magazines, movies, sex devices and the like. He also thinks escort services, nude dance venues, no-tell motels, private lingerie models, sexual “encounter centers,” and some studios should be regulated, as well as “human male genitals in a discernibly turgid state, even if fully and opaquely covered.”
Under Holden’s Senate Bill 399, a business would be classed as an adult outlet if goods “depicting or describing specified anatomical areas or specified sexual activities” make up 10 percent or more of its sales, rentals, or inventory, or if they take up 10 percent or more of the store’s floor space. Such outlets would owe $1,000 a year for state licensure and would pay an another $100 a year for each employee, who would also be subject to fingerprinting and background checks.
Holden, backed by Bitterroot Valley residents Dallas Erickson, Harris Himes, and Hollis Poe, head of the Hamilton-based All Nations Ministry, is also targeting motels that rent rooms for less than 24 hours, as well as places that primarily offer “physical contact in the form of wrestling or tumbling between persons of the opposite sex.” Oddly, the bill also includes licensed day care centers.
Erickson, head of Montana Citizens for Decency Through Law, and others testifying in favor of SB 399 said they’ve seen peep-show shops where seminal fluids from patrons were found on walls, chairs and windows. Sanitation needs are often unmet, and encounters with dried semen are common, they claimed..
Poe told the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering the bill, that he and others recently visited adult stores in Missoula and Great Falls. They took photos of the wares and submitted them to the committee. Poe encouraged the lawmakers to visit, as well. But go in pairs, Poe warned, because temptation’s pull is powerful. “Be prepared to throw away your shoes,” he added, because semen will surely befoul them.
“This is like trying crack cocaine and not getting addicted,” Poe said of his outing.
While proponents argued the controls are needed to protect public health, opponents countered that the bill is an attack on free speech and would drag traditional video stores, book stores, cable television firms, massage therapists, and even hospitals into the fray. Condoms and other contraceptives would be suspect, as well as feminine hygiene products, one pharmacist said. The state’s motel lobby, as well as the Northwest Nudists Association, came out against the measure.