OPINION Why would a Christian minister support Proposition K, the November ballot initiative that would decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco?
There are many reasons. Prop. K would allow sex workers to organize for their rights and safety. It would enable them to report abuse in the industry without fear of prosecution. It would improve their chances of maintaining their health by lessening the stigma that prevents many from seeking the health care services they need. And it would do all this while still allowing law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute human traffickers.
I also feel a kindred spirit with prostitutes. Like me, they are a stigmatized sexual minority in our culture. They, too, suffer due to stereotypes and prejudice because of who they are. As a lesbian, I know only too well what it is like to live in a world that is dangerous for me because of hatred and discrimination.
But there is another reason I support this measure. Prop. K has my vote because I believe that we who are created in the image of the Divine are both spiritual and sexual beings, and we need ample opportunities to nurture both parts of ourselves to be whole.
In the Bay Area we are fortunate to have access to a full range of spiritual practices and traditions. Whether we worship in a synagogue, mosque, church, temple, or at the altar of the Goddess, we have a plethora of opportunities for spiritual exploration and growth. Why shouldn’t the same range of offerings be available for the sexual aspects of our lives as well?
Human sexuality is an incredibly complex and wondrous thing. Some of us are able to find sexual satisfaction in long-term relationships. But limiting everyone to such a narrow path for sexual expression is like saying we all must be Christians to find God. Because we don’t limit our spirituality to such narrow expression (well, perhaps people like Sarah Palin do), why do we insist on forcing our sexuality into such a box?
Some of us like spanking. Some of us just want to be held. Some of us want to be told what to do. Sometimes we need sex without a long-term relationship. Many of us, because of our age, physical illness, or circumstances beyond our control, have a difficult time finding sex partners. Many find our most powerful spiritual places within ourselves through fantasies we cannot bring ourselves to share with our partners. I want to live in a world where we all have opportunities to experience those transcendent places without shame, and where the sex workers who can help us access those places may do so without fear of arrest or stigmatization.
I believe we must all work together to create a world in which no one is penalized, persecuted, or harassed for their gender presentation, sexual orientation, or sexual activity with consenting adults. Prop. K is one step closer to ensuring that the human rights of all sexual minorities are protected and promoted everywhere, which is why I will be voting yes. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just the Christian thing to do.
Rev. Lea Brown is the senior minister of the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco