Prominent Democrats have increasingly been vocalizing their support or voting for decriminalizing prostitution, with some claiming "sex work" is a legitimate career path for women. 

The prostitution issue was once more closely aligned with members of the radical-left "Squad," but has now gained increasing support in the mainstream Democratic Party, on Capitol Hill and in cities across the country. Even long-time Democrats such as Rep. Jerry Nadler, have come out in 2024 supporting decriminalizing it, while others – such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul – have said they are actively studying their position on "sex work."  

Most prominently, Vice President Kamala Harris came out in 2020 in support of decrim, the catch-all term used by activists to describe support for sex work, and proceeded to brag about how she refused to prosecute cases when she was a district attorney of San Francisco. 

"Back when I was DA… over 15 years ago… I was advocating then that we have to stop arresting these prostitutes," she said in an interview from 2020. "On the issue of providing a safe place for sex workers, I am a huge advocate for that. Always have." 

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Democrats support legalizing sex work

Democrats such as Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, VP Kamala Harris and Rep. Jerry Nadler have come out in support of decriminalizing prostitution.? (Fox News Digital-Hannah Grossman | Getty)

She was then asked whether she supported sex work being decriminalized. She answered, "I think so, I do… When you're talking about consenting adults, I think that, yes, we should really consider that we can't criminalize consensual behavior." 

Fox News Digital reviewed questionnaires Democratic candidates filled out for Jim Owles' Liberal Democratic Club in New York City, where dozens of politicians outlined their support for sex work. 

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg said he supported using his prosecutorial discretion to refuse cases of prostitution – including for buyers. Before he was elected, Bragg indicated he believed decrim to be a race issue. 

"I will absolutely not prosecute any persons accused of selling sex, and support the repeal of any laws on this topic," he said in 2021. "As for those who buy sex, I have no interest in prosecuting anybody engaged in consensual sex."

But, in certain scenarios, for example, if a White person is buying sex, he might consider it a "different interaction."

"I am concerned that a relatively well-off white person buying sex from a relatively poor person of color acting out of desperation is a substantially different interaction than that same person engaging in a commercial transaction like buying groceries," he said. 

Bragg at press conference

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg promised he wouldn't prosecute any sex workers.? (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Numerous House Democrats partnered with a left-wing advocacy group which has a particular focus on supporting decriminalizing prostitution, it was reported in April.

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"It’s dangerous, and exposes how [these lawmakers] are complete frauds that should never be reelected," the Republican Congressional Committee said. 

Centrist Democratic support of the issue followed years of calls to decriminalize from Squad members such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

AOC has come out vocally against two laws aimed at combating sex trafficking during the Trump administration that hold online platforms accountable for facilitating crimes. 

"I believe that [the anti-trafficking laws] put lives at risk," AOC said in 2022

And in 2020, she said, "Sex work is work." 

It was later reported that portions of AOC's Queens district are riddled with prostitutes, to the chagrin of some locals. 

"We've become sort of this epicenter of crime and prostitution and illegal street vending. It's taken over many streets," a resident, Ramses Frías, told "Fox & Friends" in March.  

AOC prostitution

An area in Squad member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s district is being described as looking more like a Third World country as opposed to a thriving American neighborhood as desperate migrants block up sidewalks selling food and flogging clothes while prostitutes openly solicit sex from passers-by, including teens.? (Fox News Digital)

In AOC's district, sex workers brazenly operate on street corners during all hours of the day, even as families walk by with their children in strollers, residents said. 

Another member of the Squad, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., proposed a bill that would abolish "criminal and civil penalties related to consensual sex work." Pressley believed sex work is about equity.

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Democratic governors have also signed legislation that effectively blocks law enforcement from cracking down on prostitution. 

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 357, or the Safer Streets for All Act, in 2022, but critics say the law has promoted brazen prostitution and sex trafficking on city streets. Law enforcement agencies have reported an uptick in illegal activity as a result of the prostitution rings. 

At the time, Newsom's office believed it would revoke provisions of the law that have "led to disproportionate harassment of women and transgender adults." 

"Prostitution is illegal, and sex trafficking is a serious and abhorrent crime," Newsom's office said in a statement to Fox News Digital. "As the Governor stated when he signed the [law], the Administration is closely monitoring the implementation of this particular law, and is committed to responding to any unintended consequences." 

Gavin Newsom global institute conference

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law which critics say is causing prostitution to skyrocket.? (PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

There has been a "massive increase in the amount of human trafficking activity... This is a serious public safety issue," according to Opal Singleton, president of anti-trafficking group Million Kids. Efforts to undo the perceived damage caused by SB 357 in California withered in the progressive state's legislature in April. 

A Democrat in the state senate said she was "done" with her colleagues after they failed to pass legislation to prosecute child prostitution as a felony

"I'd like to say as a progressive, proud member of this body for the last 12 years, I'm done," California Democrat state Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman said. "I'm done with us protecting people who would buy and abuse our children. I'm done."

"This outcome is a failure on the part of legislative leadership who caved to political pressure and did not prioritize the safety of our children," she continued. 

In a historic first, Maine's Democratic governor, Janet Mills, decriminalized prostitution in 2023

Like AOC, New York State's public advocate, an elected position, has explained that sex work is a legitimate professional career for women

"We need to not just decriminalize sex work, but legalize it. Sex work is work, period," Jumanee Williams said. 

Chuck Schumer

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was studying his position on "sex work." ? (Fox News Digital-Hannah Grossman | Getty)

Other prominent Democrats have signaled that they are studying the issue closely. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said she would meet with decriminalization advocates to discuss the matter.

"It is absolutely something I've thought about, and I'm considering," she said in 2021. "I'm discussing it with many advocates and people who have strong opinions on this."

Hochul was "continuing to consider and discuss this issue closely with advocates and partners," the office said in 2022. 

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Schumer has signaled a similar idea. "I would need to review the exact legislation and would like to hear from the advocates on the issue," he said in the questionnaire in 2022.

"Sex workers, like all workers, deserve autonomy but they are particularly vulnerable to physical and financial abuse and hardship," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said in 2020. "I’m open to decriminalization." 

Reps for the White House, Pressley, AOC, Bragg, Nadler, Hochul, Newsom, and Williams have yet to respond to requests for comment.

Fox News' Emma Colton contributed to this report. 

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