Speak Up! Doing Legislative Advocacy for Change in New York
For most issues that impact people in the sex trade within the United States, marching on Washington or asking the President to make a change is misdirected energy. States write their own criminal codes, as well as most public health, labor, and housing laws – all of which affect people in the sex trades. And cities have important powers too, regulating zoning, deciding how local money is spent, and making
the kind of decisions that affect us on a day-to-day basis like how late parks are open or where police patrol. The language –often just a few words– included in bigger state and city laws can have major impact on the ability of public services and law enforcement to place restrictions on us and penalize us for trying to make a living. On the ﬂip side, the absence of language that protects people in the sex industry can create space for law enforcement and public services to abuse us and violate our human rights.
Being aware of how state and city law making works is important because it gives us the ability to engage in our democracy and demand change for ourselves and our communities. This guide serves as a primer on how the legislative process works and what opportunities there are for people in the sex industry and our allies to engage in making change.
The Red Umbrella Project is a run and led by people who have wide-ranging experiences in the sex trades. We believe there is a lot of value in engaging in advocacy to change policies that negatively affect our communities, and that people with lived experience in the sex industry are the best people to do this work. But we’re not going to lie: there’s a lot stacked against us. The conﬂation of sex work and trafﬁcking, not to mention the social and legal stigmas associated with the sex trade, make it really difﬁcult to get our messages across. The truth is that getting rid of bad laws and getting better laws passed is slow work, and it is often discouraging. It’s unreasonable to expect that we will have big successes right away. But we are long-term optimists, and we believe that it is crucial that we invest time and energy in working for legislative change, and that it is vital for people like us to have seats at the table when our lives are being legislated.
A note about the audience for this guide: This manual was prepared speciﬁcally for people in New York City and State who are interested in doing legislative advocacy and making change in state and city policies. State and city legislative processes vary widely, so although some of the strategies are transferable to other locations, the information about the process of how a bill becomes a law is very different in other cities and states. Please research your local situation before you engage in legislative advocacy!
If you want to talk about how it can be adapted for your local area, please email email@example.com
Download the PDF for free here: Speak Up! Doing Legislative Advocacy for Change in New York (15)