DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Sex and adult entertainment will not take center stage this year in downtown Dallas. The same group that brought a pornography industry convention to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center last summer wanted to come back to North Texas this year.
But the Dallas City Council on Wednesday afternoon just barely passed a resolution that would prevent the city from signing a contract with Three Expo Events, the company that is trying to hold the Exxxotica Expo in Dallas once again.
Many critics fumed when the Exxxotica Expo brought three days of X-rated film stars, adult-themed shows and sex toys to the downtown Dallas convention center, upset that such an event was being held in a city-operated venue. Opponents argued that such an expo violated the city’s ban on sexually-oriented businesses.
The Exxxotica Expo takes adult entertainment on the road to several cities across the United States each year. The convention was met with protests when it came to Dallas last August.
Organizers of the event called it free speech, stating that the First Amendment protects their rights to gather at the convention center no matter what they are selling.
City leaders and public speakers weighed in on the topic during Wednesday’s council meeting. Many were opposed to the expo returning to Dallas, with Mayor Mike Rawlings wondering, “Where’s the line on this issue?” The council ultimately approved a resolution that bans the event from coming to the Dallas convention center.
However, some officials are asking if the ban is even legal. Dallas city councilman Philip Kingston believes that this ban could be unconstitutional, and possibly opens the city up for lawsuits. “Of course it looks bad for the City of Dallas. But if you have a public convention center, you are required to sign leases like this one,” said Kingston. “And so, the real debate is, do we want a public convention center, not do we want a sex expo?”
Katie Pedigo, CEO of a nonprofit that works with sexually exploited women and girls, was one of the speakers at Wednesday’s city council meeting. She presented a petition that was signed by 6,700 people, asking that the city restrict the locations where an adult entertainment convention can be held. She said, “We know because of the little girls that we serve, who have suffered unbelievable amounts of sexual abuse being bought and sold, that these kinds of venues fuel the demand for them.”
Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison was also at the city council meeting to listen in. The convention center is named in her honor.
When the expo was in North Texas last summer, Rawlings explained that he did not like the event being held in Dallas, but the city’s hands were tied from keeping the convention out. Rawlings was worried about the message that such an event may send regarding the sexual exploitation of women. But the city could not deny access to the convention center based on content.
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