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Western Pennsylvania Town Clings to Guns & Religion – Sexytime, Not So Much

Gorgeousness not allowed in Hillary Country<br>Clinging to guns and religion not optional.
Gorgeousness not allowed in Hillary Country
Clinging to guns and religion not optional.
Stephanie Babines tried to open a womens’ pole-dancing studio in Adams Township, Pennsylvania. Her website is located here.

The thought that local women would be gyrating like the Salem witches, with Ms. Babines playing the part of Tituba, was just too much for the code enforcement overlords in one of those parts of Pennsylvania where they cling to guns and religion. They denied Babines her permit to operate the business on the grounds that it was an unlawfully located “sexually oriented business.” (See pages 11-12 for the Adams Township code definition of that term) The township’s code enforcement officer, Gary Peaco, is apparently a psychic.

Peaco said he did not need to interview Ms. Babines regarding her intentions for the property because her website spoke for itself. He testified that regardless of whether the activity involved nudity, the dance forms Ms. Babines intended to teach were “provocative” and contained sexual “innuendo,” and her dance studio should therefore be classified as an “adult business.”

Peaco further testified that the pink-and-black color scheme of Ms. Babines’ website and the high-heeled shoe in her logo indicated to him that she intended to operate an “adult business” at the 222 Mars-Valencia Road property. (source at 13)

Now Peaco and the township are going to get an education in First Amendment law, courtesy of the ACLU. They filed this complaint on August 28. The introduction to the complaint reads:

Plaintiff Stephanie Babines is a young woman who has been denied an occupancy permit to open a dance and fitness studio in Adams Township because the small-town municipal officials do not approve of the type of dance she teaches. They believe it is “provocative,” full of sexual “innuendo,” and too dangerous for their township. Ms. Babines intends to teach women how to pole dance, power lap dance, and strip tease — all while fully clothed. The instruction contains absolutely no nudity, spectators, or sexual activity. The studio is not a men’s entertainment club or strip joint, nor is it a mere front for such activity. Rather, the dance Ms. Babines hopes to teach is part of a growing national exercise movement. Chronicled in U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, Pittsburgh Magazine, and Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, pole dancing provides “a workout that combines aerobics, dance, yoga, [and] strength training.”

Fitness?  Sexiness?  Not in Western PA you don&#39;t!<br> This is Mary Beth Buchanan country!
Fitness? Sexiness? Not in Western PA you don't!
This is Mary Beth Buchanan country!
Babines is seeking a declaratory judgment that the permit denial was an unlawful infringement of her rights under the First Amendment, the Pennsylvania Constitution, and was an unlawful application of the zoning ordinance. She is seeking unspecified damages, injunctive relief, and the costs of suit including attorneys’ fees.

You go, girl.

HT: WSJ Law Blog

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