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Pornography Vendor Takes Dallas to Court

DALLAS (CN) - The Dallas City Council ignored the advice of its city attorney when it banned a pornography expo from returning to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, a vendor claims in court.

Justin "Chino" Salas, sole proprietor of GenTX Media, sued Dallas, Mayor Mike Rawlings and the seven members of the City Council who voted to bar the expo, on constitutional grounds Monday in Federal Court.

The council voted 8-7 on Feb. 10 to ban the Exxxotica pornography expo as an impermissible use of a public facility under City Code. Mayor Rawlings introduced the resolution, saying he did not believe the event was "good for our city's brand," and that it should not be held at a city-owned property.

The mayor acknowledged that Exxxotica would probably sue over the ban.

Exxxotica is not a party to the lawsuit.

City Attorney Warren Ernst told the council before the vote that the First Amendment allows Exxxotica to use the public facility and that the city's sexual-oriented business ordinance does not apply because Exxxotica is a temporary event, not a fixed business.

Former Sen. Bailey Hutchison and several local religious and business leaders appeared at the vote to support the ban.

Police Chief David Brown told the council his officers observed no crimes at last year's expo, nor an increase in prostitution.

"Exxxotica does not engage in obscenity or any other form of unconstitutional speech or expression," Salas says in complaint. "As such, the exposition does not run afoul of any City of Dallas Municipal Ordinance [n]or is an impermissible use of the convention center."

Salas, who also goes by Justin Harp, adds "that Exxxotica is a 'lawful event, well within its constitutional rights to lease exhibit space, and that the city would most likely be sued and lose, potentially costing the city and taxpayers a large sum.'" (The interior quotes refer to a statement from City Attorney Ernst."

Salas says the 2015 Exxxotica expo was a "huge success," and that city officials invited it to return this year in May before Rawlings proposed the ban.

"The resolution violates also the constitutional guarantees and procedural due process right as a governmental ban drawn and enforced arbitrarily and subjectively by officials relying not on legal bedrock, but a political and moral agenda disfavored by our sense of ordered liberty and justice," the complaint states. "The political officials that orchestrated Exxxotica's ban are subject to political whim."

Suing as a private citizen and doing business as GenTX, Salas beat Exxxotica's organizers to the federal courthouse to sue the city. His attorney, Gary Krupkin in Richardson, said Salas and Exxxotica have a "divergence of interests" though there are common claims against the constitutionality of the ban.

"There's a possibility - and I am not saying it's going to happen - but a possibility this might turn into a class action suit where the city could be prosecuted by everybody who would like to attend Exxxotica," Krupkin told The Dallas Morning News. "And joining them would be commercial vendors too. To that extent, what Exxxotica would file would be a suit particular to them. My suit offers the possibility of having other class members join at some point in the future."

Exxxotica organizers have vowed they will hold an expo in Dallas this year.

"Today Dallas officials acknowledged our First Amendment rights," it tweeted on Feb. 10. "And then voted against them."

Salas told the Morning News he wants to attend the show as a visitor as well as a vendor. His Facebook page says he is the owner of Gentlemen's Texas Magazine, which is circulated free to strip clubs, and of the website ToplessFinder.com.

The GenTX magazine website calls Salas' publication "Dallas Fort Worth's official strip club magazine."

The Exxxotica website advertises a four-city tour this year, beginning in Dallas, "pending approval."

Salas seeks an injunction against the ban as violation of his First and 14th Amendment rights under the Constitution and concomitant provisions under the Texas Constitution.

Follow @davejourno
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