Nevada brothel owner backs federal court case to legalize prostitution
November 3, 2017
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof says he fully supports the 9th Circuit Court case challenging California's prostitution law.
In that case, the lawyer for a sex workers' advocacy organization is seeking to throw out the 145-year-old law making prostitution illegal in that state. The judges took the case under submission after a hearing that lasted about 30 minutes. There's no deadline for them to issue a ruling.
During the hearing, lawyer Louis Sirkin seemed to have support from at least one judge.
"Why is it illegal to sell something that's legal to give away?" asked Judge Carlos Bea, regarded as a conservative member of the 9th Circuit.
Sirkin is asking the appellate court to overturn the district court ruling and throw out the California law.
Hof said he has a special interest in the case because one of his former employees, a "Love Ranch girl," is one of the plaintiffs involved in the court case.
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"The judge got it right," Hof said. "Why is it illegal to sell something girls give away every night?"
While the state argued banning prostitution was designed to deter violence against women, sex trafficking, drug use and transmission of sexual diseases, Hof argued it does just the opposite.
"If they legalize it, they remove the criminals from the business," he said.
He said there are never underage girls working at the ranch, there's regular testing for any diseases and the girls are protected from pimps and other bad actors.
"Nevada got it right," he said referring to the state's controls over the industry. "We tax it, license it, control it. It's better for society and better for the clients."
There has never been a reported case of HIV in a legal brothel where the women are tested weekly.
Hof said the other issue is the tax revenue brothels contribute.
He said at $500,000 a year, he's Lyon County's largest taxpayer paying $125,000 annually for each of his four Lyon brothels.
He said things are far different where prostitution is illegal — even in Nevada where the business is outlawed in Reno and Las Vegas.
"Look at the number of hookers walking the streets in Carson City, which is zero," he said adding his legal brothels are just five miles east in Lyon County. "As opposed to Las Vegas or Reno where prostitution is growing in leaps and bounds."
In Nevada, state law bars prostitution in Clark County (Las Vegas). But it's up to the county in the remaining 16 counties in the state. Washoe County (Reno), Carson City, Douglas and Lincoln counties have ordinances barring prostitution.
Eureka has no law on the subject. Eight counties including Lyon, Storey, White Pine, Nye and Elko, have legal, licensed brothels.
There are 19 legal brothels in the state.
He said opponents of the "world's oldest profession" should just accept the fact society can't eradicate prostitution.
"It's never going away," he said. "Our system just works."