A federal judge on Thursday cited skimpy outfits, lewd behavior and other factors in upholding a decision by Dallas leaders to ban a sex exposition that last year drew upward of 15,000 people.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater rejected Three Expo Events' request for a temporary injunction that would have allowed the expo to be held next month at the city-owned Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
The City Council had allowed the expo, known as Exxxotica, to go ahead last year based on a legal opinion that banning it would be unconstitutional. But Fitzwater determined the city's ban this year was justified because Three Expo violated a contract saying exhibitors must be properly clothed and banning all sexual activity. City officials also argued people under 18 were allowed into the expo last year, Fitzwater said.
"On this record, the city has proved that its posited justifications for refusing to enter into a contract with Three Expo for Exxxotica in 2016 were reasonable in light of the purpose to be served by the convention center," he wrote.
He rejected an argument that the ban violates free speech rights by determining the center is a "limited public forum" and the city can restrict some forms of expression. The center is also a commercial enterprise intended to "promote economic development and revenue generation for the city." The expo runs counter to that aim, Fitzwater said.
Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement that the council's ban "was reasonable and not based solely on the subject matter."
"Many have criticized the City Council's decision and the cost to defend it," he said. "They predicted a quick loss in the courtroom. They were wrong."
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The council has approved $245,000 to cover the city's legal costs.
Various Dallas advocacy groups have condemned the expo and pressured city leaders to prevent it from being held at the convention center. Among their arguments is that pornography is a gateway for human trafficking.
Rawlings noted that Thursday's ruling does not conclude the matter. Three Expo could appeal and a civil trial is pending.
Three Expo director Jeffrey Handy and a Dallas-based attorney for the company, Roger Albright, did not respond to requests for comment.
Handy told The Associated Press last year that Exxxotica events are held each year in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami Beach, and are conducted in a "tasteful" way.
"The biggest fight we always have with this event is the misconceptions over it," he said.