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Voters in Birmingham outlaw prostitution, close loophole

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–Voters in Jefferson County, Ala., overwhelmingly approved an amendment Nov. 7 outlawing prostitution in unincorporated areas of the county — home to the state’s largest city.

More than 80 percent of those voting approved the measure, which corrects a loophole in state law concerning prostitution. Most cities have ordinances prohibiting prostitution, but outlying areas do not have any provisions dealing with the practice.

Prior to the vote, supporters expressed concern with the amendment’s placement on the ballot — the last of 12 statewide amendments.

“I’m afraid a lot of people are not going to vote on the amendments because they won’t take the time to read them,” said State Rep. Arthur Payne, a member of First Baptist Church, Trussville, Ala.

The amendment to Alabama’s constitution would prohibit prostitution and establish the levy of a fine “for those areas of the county outside the limits of any municipality.”

“This will make the act of prostitution illegal in unincorporated areas of the county,” Payne said.

Payne said also was concerned voters also may have thought that a yes vote would legalize prostitution. “A lot of those constitutional amendments are confusing to people,” he said.

The vote was being publicized by an unincorporated community group that said its area has been negatively impacted by prostitutes. Wink Chapman of the Center Point Action Committee said the presence of prostitutes, along with an increase in pawn shops, litter and other factors, have impacted the area.

“We have lost some dignity and pride,” said Chapman, a member of First Baptist Church, Center Point. “It is not the environment we want to raise our children in.”

Chapman said the group, which was organized in May, worked to publicize the vote by distributing flyers in churches, having churches announce the vote on their marquees, contacting the media and other efforts.

“This is not a church-sponsored organization, but there certainly are churches participating,” he said.

Chapman said it is just as important Christians vote against prostitution as they did with the proposal on statewide lottery gambling last year.

“If we can defeat the lottery as soundly as we did, then we know that we can defeat this thing,” Chapman said.

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  • Greg Heyman