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Harry Reid Wants to Ban Prostitution in Nevada

Harry Reid Wants to Ban Prostitution in Nevada

In a speech to the Nevada legislature, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid’s call to ban prostitution in his home state seems to have fallen completely flat.  “The time has come for us to outlaw prostitution,” he explained, to an audience that included a legal brothel owner, legal prostitutes and the legal industry’s state lobbyist.

Nevada is the only state in the United States where prostitution is legal, and the industry operates through heavily regulated brothels.  But many legislators seemed confused by Reid’s emphasis on prostitution, when Nevada is facing a fiscal crisis and in the midst of redrawing its congressional and legislative districts.

“We are consumed by the the budget and its implications for our state,” explained one state senator.  In the rural counties where prostitution is allowed, it’s mostly the subject of local control.  This may have added to legislators’ confusion.

So why did Harry Reid bring up the issue at all?  Interestingly, Reid tried to frame it as an economic problem, but also as a moral issue.  After meeting with a group of businesspeople who were interested in opening a facility in rural Nevada, Reid said, “One of the businessmen in that meeting told me he simply couldn’t believe that one of the biggest businesses in the county he was considering for his new home is legal prostitution.

I’ve talked to families who feel the same way,” he continued, “parents who don’t want their children to look out of a school bus and see a brothel, or to live in a state with the wrong kind of red lights.”

This moral dimension does not seem to have turned into any kind of impetus toward policy change.  The last time a bill was introduced to ban prostitution statewide was in 1985, and it didn’t get very far.

“When I initially heard he was going to mention it I was very surprised, just because it hasn’t been an issue for many [legislative] sessions and there haven’t been any problems,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness. “It’s always been a local option, and I think that’s where we ought to leave it.”

Some had more strongly worded critiques.  In a column for the Las Vegas Sun, Jon Ralston indicted Reid for castigating prostitution rather than the state’s education system:  “You think major companies would not move to Nevada because of a couple dozen brothels in rural parts of the state as opposed to executives being repelled by the wasteland that is Nevada’s education system?”

For the most part, it seems like, as sincere as Reid’s concerns might have been, they were spectacularly misplaced.  His efforts to collect moral outrage seem particularly unsuccessful.  After all, it does seem like the Nevada state legislature has bigger fish to fry.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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3:00PM PDT on Jun 14, 2013

When I said wake up wake up wake up I was only talking to the narrow minded people who think safe and regulated brothel prostitution should remain illegal. All you other people are open minded and reasonable and I greatly appreciate it! Please send me a green star or private message if you think other states should legalize prostitution aswell. Thank you

2:55PM PDT on Jun 14, 2013

It works for Nevada, so why can't we get it legalized in more states? Come on people. Please let your state legislators know you want it to be legalized in your state! Heck they could legalize state regulated brothels in other state counties with less than 200,000 residents just like brothels are legal in rural Nevada counties. What harm will legalizing safe and state regulated brothels where ONLY consenting adults will be allowed to work and patron do to society? NO HARM AT ALL! WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP!

2:30PM PDT on May 23, 2013

Harry Reid is a complete moron.

2:03PM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

They should legalize it in all 50 states!

1:28PM PST on Jan 15, 2013

Making it illegal will force the women who work in brothels to prostitute themselves at the expense of STD's sexual predators, and abusive pimps. Wake up Harry Reid. Get your head out of your rearend! Ow and I bet you have mistresses and/or pay for sex aswell. HYPOCRITE!

12:16PM PDT on May 4, 2012

Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. It has been and will always remain lucrative. If Harry Reid is concerned about moral dilemmas in Nevada, he need not single out prostitution. It's unfair. For those seeking a more discreet form of entertainment, they can visit and receive FIVE minutes FREE!

9:34AM PDT on May 10, 2011

Prostitution should be a victimless crime, and options are available to make it so. They should ne exercised in all States/Countries.

11:17PM PDT on May 4, 2011

Woman have controle of thier bodies and can do what they choose ,so if you beleave in a womans right to an abortion then she should have the right to be a prostitutes.

12:05PM PDT on Apr 28, 2011

Also, these women may not have any other choices. In Nevada at least they have protection. They aren't forced into the trade, as it is handled by some street pimps.

12:03PM PDT on Apr 28, 2011

No matter what, prostitution will go on and the way it is handled in Nevada (I lived there) keeps the women safer and healthier. This may not be what Harry Reid and some other people suddenly want but it will go on, legally or not. It should be left alone and perhaps the women offered possibilities for retraining although Nevada doesn't have that kind of money.

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