Georgians can lawfully carry a gun into a nightclub, but people living in one particular city in the state cannot buy a sex toy without a doctor’s prescription.
Two Georgia residents are now suing the city over a 2009 ordinance that prohibits them from purchasing the devices without consent from a medical professional. Melissa Davenport, 44, lives with multiple sclerosis, which affects her nervous system, and, consequently, her sex life. Davenport told WSB-TV Atlanta that her marriage has benefited from the intimate devices she found on her own in the past. Marshall Henry, in his 50s, is an artist who wants to use the devices in his work, in addition to sexual activity, said Gerry Weber, the lawyer representing both Henry and Davenport.
The city ordinance declares that any “device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs is obscene material.” Selling, renting or leasing the apparatus must be made authentically for medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement purposes.
Both plaintiffs are challenging the state code on several constitutional grounds, including privacy and equal protection. But neither individual seeks damages.
“We feel that this is really the government intruding on people’s private, intimate, sexual activity,” Weber told msnbc. “We are asking a judge to find the ordinances unconstitutional because of that.”
The City of Sandy Springs did not return msnbc’s request for comment. The Georgia Department of Public Health declined msnbc’s request for comment because the office does not offer opinions on legislation.
An appeals court struck down the state’s obscenity law in 2006, which leaves ambiguity as to whether the measure actually exists in Georgia, Weber said. Lawmakers haven’t adopted another obscenity statute since.
Weber called the law “ironic” and “absurd.”
“If the government is not in our gun racks, it certainly should not be in our bedrooms,” he said.
State law allows Georgians to carry firearms into bars, nightclubs, school classrooms and certain government buildings. Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this year signed the sweeping gun bill into law, which also provides religious leaders the decision to “opt in” to allow guns on their worship premises and grants access to permit-holders to carry weapons into Transportation Security Administration checkpoints in airports without penalty.
“Even the NRA [National Rifle Association] would agree that sex toys are less dangerous than guns,” Weber added, “so there is even less reason for the government to regulate sex toys.”
Weber said he expects the City of Sandy Springs to respond to the lawsuit in early June.