Nye County is one of a handful of rural counties in Nevada where legal brothels are authorized to operate. And for the past couple of years the Nye County Commission has been working to update its brothel ordinance to clean up some language and modernize the code.
The original update proposal announced in October included a new “lockdown” provision that would only allow a courtesan to leave the brothel for six hours every ten days.
In response to significant opposition voiced by many of the women in the industry, that proposal was killed before the language for the new ordinance was even officially introduced – a big win for the good guys.
Unfortunately, the proposed changes kept intact the existing “24-hour lockdown” rule that’s been in place for years…
“Every prostitute who is off the brothel premises in excess of twenty-four (24) hours shall be subject to all the medical testing requirements set forth in this chapter and any other applicable State laws and regulations.”
The proposed 6-hour lockdown rule was bad, but the existing 24-hour rule wasn’t any better. So we set our sights on repealing this provision entirely, as well.
On Monday, Commission Chairman John Koenig reached out and requested arguments in favor of repeal – particularly in response to concerns raised regarding public health.
I wrote and sent those arguments to Chairman Koenig and members of the Commission later that afternoon. You can read that document here.
The report included references related to this issue from two books authored by a pair of professors, Barbara Brents of UNLV (State of Sex: Tourism, Sex and Sin in the New American Heartland) and Sara Blithe of UNR (Sex and Stigma: Stories of Everyday Life in Nevada’s Legal Brothels), who have studied the industry extensively.
If this is a topic of interest to you, I can’t recommend highly enough reading both books. Thoroughly enlightening and absolutely terrific.
In addition, Christina Parreira, a former Nye County courtesan who is doing her doctoral thesis on the brothel industry at UNLV, submitted a statement urging repeal of the 24-hour lockdown rule. You can read her statement here.
The Commission hearing and vote on the proposed code change was held in Pahrump on Tuesday.
In addition to the documents submitted, I have to give a huge shout-out to Kourtney Chase, a courtesan at the Chicken Ranch Brothel, who attended the meeting and testified. She was a bit nervous (who wouldn’t be under the circumstances?) but did great.
Kourtney had already written a pair of absolutely wonderful columns in opposition to the proposed 6-hour lockdown rule back in October. If you missed them, they’re well worth reading. Click here and here.
Kourtney’s willingness to share her life story and explain how these lockdown rules hurt and stigmatize the women who work in Nevada’s legal brothels put a human face on this issue. I can’t begin to tell you how important and persuasive “putting herself out there” was to this effort.
After Kourtney and I and a couple others finished testifying and making our case, Chairman Koenig announced a number of final changes he was proposing for the ordinance update – including completely striking the 24-hour lockdown rule.
Other commissioners recommended a few other, non-related changes, and then it was time for the vote.
In the end, the new ordinance was approved – WITH THE LOCKDOWN RULE REMOVED! – by a unanimous vote of 5-0!
Thank you to everyone who got involved and reached out to the Nye County Commission over the 6-hour rule back in October and showed up for the hearings.
Thank you to Professors Brents and Blithe whose studies of this industry proved invaluable in making our case.
Thank you to Christina, who was instrumental in opposing both lockdown rules in October and this week.
THANK YOU to Kourtney!
And especially thank you to Mr. Koenig.
The Chairman handled this entire matter professionally, cooperatively and respectfully. And he did something far too few of our elected officials do when it comes to this industry…
He listened to the sex workers themselves.
If you’d like to extend your appreciation to the Chairman, please shoot an email to: email@example.com. This wouldn’t have happened without his leadership.
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a limited-government grassroots advocacy organization, and government affairs counsel to the Nevada Brothel Association. His views are his own.