Gay Sex Toys Banned in Alabama
July 29, 2004
By 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Birmingham, Alabama—A federal appeals court has upheld
a 1998 Alabama law banning the sale of sex toys in the state, ruling the
Constitution doesn’t include a right to sexual privacy.
On the surface, the suit may be considered whimsical,
banning the sale of inflatable sex dolls, dildos, and playing cards with the
pictures of naked porn stars on them, but the court’s reasoning is giving
civil rights groups cause for alarm. And, the law that bans selling gay sex
toys also forbids selling toys aimed at heterosexuals.
In its 2-1 decision overturning a lower court, 11th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals said the state has a right to police the sale of
devices that can be sexually stimulating.
The case was brought by the owner of a store that had
been charged with selling the toys and was fargued by the American Civil
Liberties Union which argued that the Constitution included a right to sexual
privacy that the ban on sex toy sales would violate.
The court said that accepting the ACLU argument could
lead down other paths.
“If the people of Alabama in time decide that a
prohibition on sex toys is misguided, or ineffective, or just plain silly,
they can repeal the law and be finished with the matter,” the court’s
written ruling said.
“On the other hand, if we today craft a new fundamental
right by which to invalidate the law, we would be bound to give that right
full force and effect in all future cases including, for example, those
involving adult incest, prostitution, obscenity, and the like.”
Attorney General Troy King said the court “has done its
duty” in upholding the law.
Sherri Williams, the adult novelty retailer who filed the
lawsuit with seven other women and two men, called the decision
“I’m just very disappointed that courts feel
Alabamians don’t have the right to purchase adult toys. It’s just
ludicrous,” said Williams, who lives in Florida and owns Pleasures stores in
Huntsville and Decatur. “I intend to pursue this.”
U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith Jr. of Huntsville has
twice ruled against the state law, deciding in 2002 that the sex toy ban
violated the constitutional right to privacy. The state appealed both times
The state law bans only the sale of sex toys, not their
possession, the court said, and it doesn’t regulate other items including
condoms or virility drugs.
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