“‘prostitutes’ are either consenting adults or they are victims of a crime. In both cases, they should not be viewed as breaking the law, and should not be arrested or prosecuted.”
A woman called the Shamokin Police Department recently to report a terrifying situation. She needed police protection, she explained, because she was “being forced to have sex with a man for money.” At this point, any of us would assume the authorities would react quickly, offering her protection, taking action to verify her claim and acting appropriately to end any criminal activity.
Instead of protecting the woman, she was arrested and charged with felonies including Prostitution and Criminal Use of a Communication Facility. Far from protecting her, she is now charged as a criminal, with her full name and hometown published in the media. All this from a plea for help. A woman who says she was forced into prostitution was arrested, along with her accused persecutors.
At the center of this horrific story is a simple problem with a simple solution. In a free society sex between consenting adults should be legal. It does not matter if money is involved, a new sports jacket, or a fancy dinner. What we call ‘prostitutes’ are either consenting adults or they are victims of a crime. In both cases, they should not be viewed as breaking the law, and should not be arrested or prosecuted.
Sex trafficking of any kind is abhorrent and should be stopped and the perpetrators dealt with appropriately. But by making sex for payment (prostitution) illegal, we make it harder for victims of trafficking and forced prostitution to come forward and seek protection. Like the woman in Shamokin, they risk arrest and incarceration for the crime of being abused by others. Criminalizing prostitution makes it easier for predators to take advantage of vulnerable people.
We need to change our laws to decriminalize victimless crimes and instead focus on protecting real victims and prosecuting real criminals. We can protect both our rights and protect the innocent by doing the right thing. We need to strike consensual adult prostitution from our books now.
On Sunday, May 23rd the first in a series of community discussions about mental health was launched in Williamsport, Pa. The forum was conducted both in-person and on-line to allow as many participants to attend as possible. The discussion was led by Liz Terwilliger, Libertarian candidate for Congress (12th District). The Break Room, a business focused on safe and fun ways to release stress and negative emotions hosted the event.
“The difficult times we all experienced this past year has highlighted the need for more attention to the mental health of our community,” said Liz. “These forums are needed to allow members of our community to identify what we need so that we can work together with area organizations and our representatives to find solutions that fit our unique needs.”
The discussion at the forum was far-reaching; conversation ranged from barriers to accessing care, qualifications and requirements placed on providers, and the stigma of mental illness and of seeking help. Also discussed were the preconceived ideas about individuals with mental illness and specific diagnoses and the recent increase in teen suicide.
As discussion around the stigma of mental illness and of seeking help gelled, Liz summarized the sentiment of the discussion, “I am not weak because I need help. I am strong because I sought the help I need.” This sentiment, changing the way we think and talk about mental health and wellness permeated the discussion.
Special attention was given by the group to our unique challenges living in a rural are. “A consensus from participants was the challenge in some of our district due to distance of mental health providers who are taking new patients, who covered by insurance or just finding any at all.”
Some participants identified cultural barriers they had personally experienced, such as hesitance to seek help due to fear of losing one’s guns or fear of what others in their family or community might think or say about them.
In each area the group discussed concerns and needs in depth and developed an action plan which will be acted on in coming weeks. The next Forum was scheduled for June 16th from 11am-1pm at the Lewisburg Farmers Market. For updates and more information, visit the Events and the Issues pages at lizterwilligerforcongress.org.
Liz Terwilliger for Congress aims to increase public engagement in conversations about issues that affect our freedoms. To that end, the LT4C campaign committee is hosting Perspectives on Freedom: An American Values Forum where guest speakers and members of the public will converge on a variety of topics via moderated break-out sessions in a “reverse town hall” style format featuring facilitated, open and respectful discussions.
Featured Guests: Spike & Tasha Cohen
Session Topics (so far…)
Improving Healthcare Access
What’s Underlying Gun Violence
Tension Between Regulation and Rights: Environmental Protection
Parental Rights in Education
Reducing Abortions, Respecting Rights
Have ideas for a session topic? Want to be a moderator or lead a discussion at the event? We have an open Call for Participation thru June 30th, 2021. Click for the Download button to link to the packet.
All are welcome to participate! Join us in person for a single session or for the whole weekend or register to join us online.
A special early registration will be available at our table during the LPPA Convention at the Indigo Hotel – Oakland, in Pittsburgh, PA May 14th-16th.
Interested in advertising at the Forum? We will have full page, half page and business card ad space in the Forum program as well as an option to add a flyer to the registration packet. There will also be opportunities to sponsor a coffee hour or mid-morning/mid-afternoon break. Interested in having a table in our vendor and info area? We will have a limited number of tables available for reservation as well.
Fire Departments across the state have had their funding impacted by COVID-19 restrictions cancelling so many critical fundraisers. We want to do something to help the departments in the 15 counties of the 12th Congressional District. We are organizing a shoe drive fundraiser as a district-wide challenge.
Liz Terwilliger for Congress is providing supplies to departments, promoting the drive, collecting bags of shoes at the end of the drive, coordinating the shipping of collected shoes and distributing proceeds to each participating fire department.
Participating Fire Departments will collect shoes at their fire house, promote the shoe drive, store bags of shoes collected in a dry place out of the weather.
Departments will receive 100% of the funds raised for the shoes they collect. The more a Department collects, the more money they’ll raise.
As an added incentive, the Fire Department that collects the most shoes will get their name on the Firehouse Footgear Challenge Plaque (donated by Woodland Art) and will possess the plaque until next year’s drive.
Shoes have to be clean and gently used or new.
Liz Terwilliger is partnering with Funds2Orgs. They are paying for the shoes collected, by the pound. They are supplying collection bags that hold approximately 25 pairs of shoes. Each bag is worth approximately $10 in proceeds. Shipping will be FREE if we collect 100 bags of shoes combined from all participating departments.
“I urge every voter, no matter what party they support, to go to the polls on May 18 and vote YES on the three most important proposals. Reject discrimination and reject placing extraordinary powers in the hands on any one person.”
On Tuesday, May 18, Pennsylvania expects the same low turnout we usually see in primary elections. If that happens, it would be unfortunate, since this primary will affect every voter in the state, regardless of their party affiliation.
Part of the problem is that thousands of voters are unaware that they are even allowed to cast a vote. Although every taxpayer helps pay for the cost of a primary, Libertarian Party members (like myself), as well as Green Party and other third-party members and independents, often cannot participate in primaries because they are designed to allow the two major parties to choose their candidates. Many third-party voters simply ignore primaries all together. But they shouldn’t this time.
One big exception to the “closed primary” rule, is when referendums are on the ballot, and in next month’s election, everyone can vote on four key referendums that will affect our state constitution.
As usual, they are worded awkwardly, but they contain important proposals that would affect the use of government powers as well as the ability to discriminate against individuals based on their race, color, creed, and other characteristics. This is our chance, as voters, to place important decision-making powers back into the hands of citizens and ensure that all Pennsylvanians are treated fairly no matter what their backgrounds may be.
As a Libertarian, I support individual freedom and reject the notion that a single executive like the governor can suspend the state constitution without answering to the voters or their elected representatives.
For the past year, business and schools throughout the state have suffered from constantly changing, often arbitrary rules that have violated the state constitution and the rights of citizens. The Pennsylvania constitution allows for the temporary suspension of some laws in the case of a serious emergency, and “temporary” is currently defined as 90 days.
When an executive violates the spirit of this law by arbitrarily extending an emergency order as often as he likes, however, we no longer are faced with an emergency. Instead, we have a version of martial law that can last as long as that single person decides. One of the May ballot referendums, therefore, proposes that while a chief executive may declare an emergency (which makes sense), he or she may not endlessly prolong it without permission from the legislature (which follows the spirit of our constitution).
A second proposed amendment would also make this clear: Even under a temporary emergency declaration, a governor would not be allowed to close businesses, shut schools or prevent assembly for indefinite periods of time. Again, this power belongs to the voters and to their elected representatives, not to a single politician.
The third initiative is a joint resolution to prohibit discrimination due to race or ethnicity. This resolution is designed to ensure that our rights are not denied or abridged because of who we are. While it first appeared that not every political party supported this, the resolution now appears to have the backing of every party, as it should.
The fourth referendum proposes to open the volunteer fire department loan system to municipalities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. This simply takes funds away from volunteer departments and shifts it to large Pennsylvania cities, without enlarging the available funding.
I urge every voter, no matter what party they support, to go to the polls on May 18 and vote YES on the three most important proposals. Reject discrimination and reject placing extraordinary powers in the hands on any one person.
Fortunately, the pandemic is reaching its final stages thanks to brilliant technology and the hard work of so many in the medical profession. The damage caused to businesses, students, workers, and families, however, will unfortunately be with us for a long time, largely due to the poor decisions made by a governor who felt he could ignore the will of his constituents and their elected representatives.
It is time to end the dictatorship. Support equal rights. Support our state constitution. Vote yes on the three key ballot initiatives on May 18.