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Family Leader has joined several other family-friendly organizations in signing a letter to the top 100 outdoor advertisers asking them not to support two national billboard companies that have started to accept ads from sexually-oriented businesses.  If you own a business and would like to sign this letter, please send me your name, position, and name of business, and we will add you to the list.  Send it to editorial@meridianmagazine.com

The letter reads:

“Billboards are a ubiquitous presence in American society.  As a responsible entrepreneur, you possess a unique understanding of their social and psychological significance and the extent of the influence they wield.  Utilized in the right way, they promote confidence and trust between retailers and consumers.  Left in the wrong hands, they not only scar the landscape and erode positive cultural values, but undermine the working relationship advertisers are seeking to forge with good customers.  In short, bad billboards are bad business for everyone concerned.  That’s why we want to urge you to take your business elsewhere when Lamar Outdoor Advertising and CBS Outdoor come knocking at your door.

“Perhaps a bit of background would be helpful.  In 1998 Phil Burress, President of Citizens for Community Values, and Jan LaRue, an attorney with the Family Research Council, met with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and asked them, in the name of dozens of national, state, and local organizations, to adopt a policy against accepting ads from sexually oriented businesses (SOB) or ads that display men, women, or children in an offensive manner.  At the time, we pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court, in Renton v. Playtime Inc. (1986), had determined that sexually oriented businesses such as strip bars, pornography stores, and massage parlors cause 1) increased crime, 2) decreased property values, and 3) urban blight.  That’s not to mention that, as a matter of conscience, we did not think it right to place ads promoting SOBs on highways where children of all ages could view them.

“We’re happy to report that several OAAA members have never accepted ads from SOBs.  Lamar Outdoor Advertising was one of a few companies that did at the time of our meeting with the Association.  As a result of our efforts, Lamar eventually agreed to discontinue this practice.  Unfortunately, we have recently learned that Lamar and CBS have undergone a change in policy at the corporate level and that the companies have started accepting SOB ads again.  That’s the reason for this letter.

“Today we have even more evidence of how harmful SOBs are to the general well being of all Americans.  There is, in fact, good reason to suppose that many of them are involved in domestic human trafficking.  The “2010 Ohio Trafficking in Person Study Commission identified strip bars and pornography outlets as places where human trafficking occurs (see http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/TraffickingReport).  What’s more, the humantrafficking.org Web site reports, “Victims of sex trafficking are often found working in establishments that offer commercial sex acts, i.e., brothels, strip clubs, and pornography production houses.  Such establishments may operate under the guise of massage parlors, escort services, adult bookstores, modeling studios, and bars or strip clubs.”

“For all of these reasons, we, the undersigned, respectfully ask that you not support businesses such as Lamar Outdoor Advertising and CBS Outdoor until they stop accepting ads from sexually oriented businesses.  Naturally, we are not suggesting that you terminate any contracts already in place.  We are simply proposing that when current contracts expire you make a conscious decision to transfer your account to OAAA members who have made a commitment to refuse advertising from sexually oriented businesses.