Tasha Reign, a performer who has spent the last decade working in the adult industry, has created a Change.org petition urging Congress to recognize independent contractors acting as small businesses in the sex industry. To read and sign the petition, click here. 

In response to the overwhelming financial impact COVID-19 has had on many small businesses and independent contractors, Congress has passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, commonly referred to as the ‘CARES Act’. The goals of the CARES Act are (1) to keep American workers paid and employed and (2) to provide financial assistance for American workers, families, and businesses. While a majority of working-class Americans are receiving financial assistance through this act, those working legally in the sex industry have been deliberately excluded from receiving financial aid from the CARES act, including access to funds made available in the form of PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans and EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) grants. 

The stipulation on the application for assistance states, “The applicant does not present live performances of prurient sexual nature or derive directly or indirectly more than de minimis gross revenue through the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, or a prurient sexual nature.” 

“That’s me, and all the people who receive compensation for promoting, supporting and advocating for sexual pleasure, nationwide,” said Tasha Reign. “In these uncertain times, it’s important that we come together, and remind people that a majority of sex workers are legally employed, pay taxes, support the economy and deserve access to the same social programs as everyone else.” 

In a recent article by Buzzfeed, a spokesperson for the Small Business Administration (SBA) told the site that the federal agency will “probably not” waive the language excluding “prurient” sex workers and sex businesses from applying for CARES disaster relief. 

Recently, as reported by CNN, “Strip clubs and lobbyists are suing the federal government to try to get access to coronavirus stimulus dollars. So far, there are relatively few lawsuits in federal court against the SBA over the loan program, and these lawsuits are in their earliest stages before federal judges.” 

Congress holding an ambiguous judgment of morality during a pandemic that directly affects all lives, regardless of class or industry, is fundamentally immoral. Signing the Change.org petition and gathering as many signatures as possible is the first step in giving a voice to the voiceless.