Sex toys and lubricants have become increasingly available in major commercial outlets in the United States. On-shelf displays tend to be more discreet than the offerings on web sites. These items tend to be displayed in the “sexual health” sections of stores.
Until recently, many Southern and some Great Plains states banned the sale of sex toys completely, either directly or through laws regulating “obscene devices.” In 1999, William H. Pryor, Jr., an assistant attorney general in Alabama commenting on a case involving sex toys and discussing to what end the devices are used, was quoted as saying there is no “fundamental right for a person to buy a device to produce orgasm”. A federal appeals court upheld Alabama’s law prohibiting the sale of sex toys on Valentine’s Day, 2007. The law, the Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1998, was also upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court on September 11, 2009.
In February 2008, a federal appeals court overturned a Texas statute banning the sales of sex toys, deeming such a statute as violating the Constitution’s 14th Amendment on the right to privacy. The appeals court cited Lawrence v. Texas, where the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 struck down bans on consensual sex between gay couples, as unconstitutionally aiming at “enforcing a public moral code by restricting private intimate conduct.” Similar statutes have been struck down in Kansas and Colorado. As of 2009, Alabama is the only state where a law prohibiting the sale of sex toys remain on the books.