Reportedly, Chase Bank recently sent letters to hundreds of porn performers informing them that their accounts will be shut down by mid-May. This isn't the first time Chase has targeted those who work in the adult industry — and, sadly, I doubt it will be the last.
According to Perez Hilton (I know, I'm sorry), hundreds of letters went out to members of the adult industry informing them, "We recently reviewed your account and determined that it will be closing on May 11, 2014." The letter goes on to apologize for the inconvenience and instruct the recipient to cancel all automatic deposits and withdrawals.
Sex work is never specifically mentioned, but — as Kitty Stryker points out at The Frisky — Chase has a dubious history of discriminating against people in the adult industry (and even people who just do work that's related to sexuality). Last year, for instance, Chase refused to process payments for Lovability, a company that sells condoms and promotes female sexual empowerment, because condoms are "adult-oriented material" and thus a "reputational risk." After Lovability CEO Tiffany Gaines engaged in a high-profile protest against the company, the bank agreed to process Lovability's payments — but, notably, not to remove condoms from the "prohibited adult" category. Gaines responded to this decision on xoJane:
Chase's ability to pass judgment calls on what we can buy and sell is a breach of everyone's rights... We cannot allow any large corporations like Chase bank to get away with governing our ability to take responsibility for our sexual health.
A month after this, former softcore porn producer Marc L. Greenberg sued Chase for refusing to underwrite a loan for "moral reasons." Greenberg approached the bank for help refinancing one of his properties; although he had an annual income of $500,000 and a net worth of $10 million, his request was ignored for four months. Finally, a high-ranking official at the bank told him that his loan application had been refused due to "JPMorgan's disapproval of plaintiff's former source of income and occupation as an owner of a television production company that produced television programs that dealt with the subject of human sexuality." It doesn't matter if the money is legally earned: if it has anything to do with sex, Chase views it as sordid.
If Chase is really shutting down the personal bank accounts of members of the porn industry just because they do porn, that's pretty fucking dire. Banks shouldn't have the right to deny people access to their services for purely political or "moral" reasons — after all, sex work is work, too, and working in porn is perfectly legal. To decree that it's "immoral" or "reputationally damaging" and thus a liability isn't some kind of business decision: it's discrimination.
Image via Getty.