The newest retail business in Sioux City opens for business this morning, but not everyone is happy about it. John Haltom operates nine stores in Midwestern states, selling adult novelties and lingerie. He says they cater to heterosexual couples, with “anything you can imagine” in women’s and men’s lingerie, lotions and massage oils, how-to books, romantic gifts, and in “a little corner of the store,” adult toys, marital aids and adult videos. Sioux City’s not exactly welcoming the new retailer with open arms. When the latest branch of “Doctor John’s Boutique” prepared to open, Sioux City’s council hastily amended the zoning ordinance to prevent it. Haltom appealed, and a judge granted an injunction allowing him to open for business. It’s not finished, but a federal judge has issued a temporary order allowing him to open the store and throwing out the city’s “sexually-oriented business” licensing and zoning law. Haltom is a veteran of this kind of fight, though, and has lawyers of his own. He says he’s been a retailer all his life, starting with flea markets. It’s about 17 years now, and he says his folks run five stores in St Louis for him, with a total of fifteen he owns in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and Utah. Haltom says ever since he started at flea markets he’s been fighting this battle, to defend his first amendment rights against hostile governments — or, a few individuals within government who “want to put political and religious beliefs on everyone.” Representative Dick Taylor, a democrat from Cedar Rapids, has proposed placing a new 25 percent state tax on dirty magazines, x-rated videos, sex toys and any product from the pornography industry, saying it’s just like alcohol and cigarettes which are taxed at a higher rate. Haltom says it’ll never succeed. Haltom says the Supreme Court will throw it out as unconstitutional, saying you “cannot tax morality.” Haltom says liquor and tobacco aren’t a protected category in the constitution, but adult material is protected speech under the first amendment, so there IS a difference. Haltom says tobacco and liquor cause health problems and more work for public servants like police, and he adds his stores don’t sell tobacco products because he believes they hurt people. Haltom’s done stints in jail in defense of his beliefs, most recently in Omaha and before that in Utah, but says no community has ever forced one of his stores to close.
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