The Associated Press
COLUMBUS — Strip-club owners and dancers will try to give voters a chance to overturn a law that forbids touching strippers and halts nude dancing after midnight, groups representing both said Thursday.
The opponents are beginning to collect the signatures needed to put the issue on Ohio’s November ballot. By naming itself Citizens for Community Standards, the group took a swipe at Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values, the conservative Christian group that pushed for the restrictions in the Legislature.
The statewide crackdown cleared the Legislature last month, and was allowed to become law by Gov. Ted Strickland without his signature.
Club owners lobbied against the measure as an unconstitutional infringement on free speech and expression.
Sandy Theis, a spokeswoman for the Buckeye Association of Club Executives, which represents strip-club owners, and Dancers for Democracy, said the law already is hurting clubs and dancers even though it does not go into effect until Sept. 4.
“Customers think it’s gone into effect, so they are afraid to patronize Ohio’s adult cabarets,” she said.
The committee will need to collect roughly 240,000 signatures — a number that equals 6 percent of the total vote cast in the 2006 governor’s race — to get the issue on the ballot.
David Miller, vice president of Citizens for Community Values, said Ohioans support the key provisions of the bill, which prohibit touching of dancers — unclothed or clothed — and prohibit dancing after midnight.
“The only way they’ll pass this is through a major campaign of disinformation and spin,” he said. “The fact they’re trying to use our name and associate it with a ‘no’ vote (against restrictions) is an indication it’s a significant uphill battle for them.”
He said if the law were truly unconstitutional, the group could have sought a court order to overturn it for less money and effort than it takes to mount a ballot campaign.
Theis said the groups may yet go to court, but believe the ballot campaign is the quickest way to get the law overturned.