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Published: Friday, 9/21/2007

Foes of Ohio strip-club law change name

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - The real battle lies ahead, but the two organizations with similar names but opposite stances on a possible ballot referendum on strip clubs have quietly settled their first skirmish.

A group that wants voters to repeal a new state law limiting the hours of adult businesses and prohibiting customers and strippers from touching one another will call itself the "Vote No on Issue 1 Committee.''

The group, financially backed by the adult club and film industry, had registered as Citizens for Community Standards, a slap at Citizens for Community Values, a conservative Cincinnati organization that petitioned lawmakers to pass the law.

Community Values cried trademark infringement. Community Standards sued in U.S. District Court in Cleveland to keep the name.

"Use of the new name, 'Vote No on Issue 1 Committee,' will end the dispute between Citizens for Community Standards and Citizens for Community Values currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, and in due course, the case will be dismissed,'' according to a statement yesterday by both organizations.

The repeal committee could learn today whether it has the required 241,366 valid signatures of registered voters to put the issue on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The effort has reportedly resulted in an unusually high rate of signatures being thrown out by county boards of election as invalid.

The committee, relying on professional signature gatherers, has continued to collect signatures and is expected to have to take advantage of a 10-day grace period to patch major holes in its petitions.

The law was passed last spring but was placed on hold at least temporarily by the filing of the strip-club group's petitions.

The law would require strip clubs, adult book and video stores, X-rated theaters, and other "sexually oriented businesses'' to close between midnight and 6 a.m.

The exception would be clubs with liquor licenses allowing them to stay open until 2 a.m., but there could be no nude entertainment during those extra two hours.

The law also toughens criminal penalties if nude or semi-nude performers and their customers should come into contact with another.

An illegal touch would be a fourth-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

If the touch involves a "specified anatomical area'' - defined as the genitals, pubic region, or a specific portion of the female breast - the crime would escalate to a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.



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