Post by: Kelsey E. McGee
Hello! My name is Kelsey McGee and I am a second year law student. I am working on a survey of state prostitute laws for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE). NCOSE works in many areas to curtail the widespread effects of human trafficking, sexual abuse, and prostitution. The NCOSE law center works on lawsuits to protect public policy through removing the presumption that pornography, prostitution, grooming children for sexual abuse, and sex trafficking are normal parts of society.
I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I am obsessed with the “Hamilton” soundtrack. I’m a sucker for history and putting history to music took me straight to nerd-heaven. What immediately inspired me was the song “My Shot” which details the hunger this (fictionalized) Alexander Hamilton has to do something worthwhile, to change the world, protect human rights, and be free of the king. I identified with Hamilton describing himself as “young, scrappy, and hungry” and quickly became my rally cry.
I have often asked The Lord to not let me miss what He has called me to and by His grace I know I am right where I am supposed to be. I’m not missing “my shot.” I’m not insinuating that I have some marvelous high profile calling. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. My “shot” in this moment is to fight for the voiceless and fight for justice. This has never felt so prevalent in my own life as it has while researching each state’s prostitution laws. I have grappled extensively with Nevada and the disconcerting nature between legalized prostitution and what is punishable under law. In another life I spent many hours around women who had prostituted or were survivors of sexual trafficking. It permanently changed how I view these individuals.
Nevada has all of the laws one might imagine to prosecute those prostituting, soliciting prostitutes, or pimping. The glaring caveat to all of these laws is that prostitution is legal in ten counties and there are currently twenty-one legal brothels. The bifurcation of state and local law is a head-scratcher in terms of enforcement. One of the most curious laws is the penalty for continuing to prostitute or solicit a prostitute after one has a confirmed diagnosis of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), for which the penalty is a felony.
In my experience with individuals who have prostituted is the similarity between “legal” and “illegal” and how identical it appears from the outside. I am confounded to think what protection an illegal prostitute is entitled to that a legal prostitute is not entitled to simply because under the letter of the law she is complicit in her situation. How am I supposed to stand up and call myself an advocate if I stop one step short of attempting to shield those who—for all intents and purposes—look as though everything is normal, fine, and voluntary. Martin Luther King Jr. quoted St. Augustine in his “Letter From Birmingham Jail” by saying “An unjust law is no law at all.” As lawyers and advocates, our job is to apply the law. Our duty is also to not miss our “shot” to advocate for the voiceless and when the core of a law is not justice, it is not a just law. To those who may be perturbed that I would challenge an entire state and its laws, please be comforted that my intent is not a legislative assault but rather an attempt to address my own thoughts and stir dialogue on how the law can protect the vulnerable.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Student Staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.
 About, National Center on Sexual Exploitation, https://endsexualexploitation.org/about/.
 Neil Shouse, Counties where prostitution is legal in Nevada, Shouse Law Group, https://www.shouselaw.com/nv/blog/prostitution/counties-where-prostitution-is-legal-in-nevada/ (August 25, 2020).
 Intercollegiate Studies Institute, An unjust law is no Law at All: Excerpts from “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, https://isi.org/intercollegiate-review/an-unjust-law-is-no-law-at-all-excerpts-from-letter-from-birmingham-jail/ (January 21, 2019).