Inside a congressional office building on a recent Tuesday, Kate D’Adamo had a tough sell.

D’Adamo had spent the year lobbying in the US Capitol on behalf of sex workers, a workforce that’s often maligned and portrayed cartoonishly on TV dramas. On this August morning, as her phone perpetually charged from a giant battery, she was trying to unravel a law passed last year designed to tackle human trafficking that had, in the process, outlawed the online platforms that many sex workers used to screen clients. Known as SESTA-FOSTA, the law has caused more sex workers to work without those tools, making them more vulnerable to predators on the street.

Part of a growing national network of activists behind a backlash against the law, D’Adamo has quarterbacked a bill that’s expected to be introduced in Congress this fall to study the ramifications of the law — part of a larger goal of repealing it and, one day, decriminalizing sex work nationwide.

And on this day, she sat across from a legislative aide to a House member from California, looking for members willing to cosponsor the bill.

“The Congress member understands, you know, the harms that the bill that was signed into law has done,” the aide told D’Adamo and two fellow activists from LGBTQ organizations who’d joined her. “But I can’t see the Congress member coming out publicly and supporting this, just because I feel that we would get a lot of backlash in the district.”

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Democratic Voters Are Opening Up To Decriminalizing Sex Work by Dominic Holden

Sept. 19, 2019