FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A petition has been drawn up and a protest held to bring attention to a two-year-old city ordinance. The Sexually Oriented Business Ordinance, passed in 2019, placed restrictions on business in Fort Wayne that target adults, such as strip clubs.
Several members of Fort Wayne City Council confirmed to WANE 15 no official documents have been filed, nor bills presented calling for a change or repeal of the ordinance. A spokesperson for the mayor’s office told WANE 15 that the administration could not comment due to ongoing litigation.
“They’re not considering modern times and not considering things that have been going on that aren’t even modern,” a protestor told WANE 15 Tuesday. “Things like this have been going on for as long as people have seen each other. People like to enjoy each other. And that’s what we allow. It’s a safe place for people to enjoy each other. City council didn’t consider every one involved.”
According to Councilman Jason Arp, a new ordinance could be presented calling for the 2019 ordinance to be repealed. It would then have to be approved by council. He noted that council has different members than when the move was previously approved. He added that he believes the previous ordinance may have gone too far in interfering with businesses.
“I don’t want people in there that don’t want to be there,” the protestor added. “If you’re uncomfortable, if you’re not old enough, I can see the reason behind the licensing. I’d like to see the money that we pay go towards supporting the victims of sex trafficking. There is an ugly side. I can see that side. But once we’ve told you that we’re adults, that we are comfortable and that we’re safe, and we want to, we should be allowed to do our job inside a building that has no windows. Nobody goes there expecting to see girls with bikinis on. Especially seeing girls with shorts on.”
Councilman Russ Jehl introduced a similar move in 2017, which failed to go the distance. Councilman Tom Didier told WANE 15 the mayor’s office could also make the pitch for a new ordinance to council, but he hasn’t seen anything happen this go-round.