In 2004, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of over 40 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.
NCSF's Incident Response team is directed by Director Leigha Fleming. In total, over 740 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2004. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects such as the CUFFs group incident. Cuffs, a nonprofit SM club at Iowa State University, was called before disciplinary council in March, with their SM demonstrations cited as assault. The media coverage was nationwide. NCSF sent out two press releases on the rights of college students to have access to free expression and educational forums on SM during this incident.
2004 saw an increased number of requests around criminal and legal issues. Individuals, businesses and groups consulted with NCSF on: the legality and definition of obscene materials, guidelines for posting sexually frank information on websites, the law regarding private parties, allegations of false rape, alleged domestic violence, and dealing with law enforcement.
The largest category of incidents involved parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases, as well as an increased number of employment related incidents. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent.
Group incidents decreased in 2004, with only a few requests from local groups to assist with hotels and media to help resolve their issues. This may be due to the fact that religious political extremist groups appear to have been busy in 2004 opposing gay marriage. NCSF received one call in January from a Michigan newspaper asking about gay marriage in regards to how it would affect the legality of polygamy (the answer - not at all).
In March, NCSF sent out an Action Alert about the Georgia House of Representatives banning genital piercings for women. The bill outlined punishments for female genital mutilation, making it punishable by two to 20 years in prison. However a last-minute "Heath Amendment" to the bill made no exception for adult women who gave consent for their own genital piercings. The bill was blocked in the Senate because of this amendment, and was reintroduced in Jan 2005, allowing adults to receive genital piercings but not minors under 18.
A number of complaints continued to come in regarding Paypal and E-bay about their discriminatory practices. Paypal continues to close accounts without warning for allegedly violating their policy against selling adult/pornographic items. When Paypal closed down the website of The Baronness who sells rubber clothing, Lisa Napoli, Senior Reporter for NPR’s Marketplace covered the story, with Susan Wright giving an interview on behalf of NCSF.
In October, NCSF contacted New York City Councilwoman Lopez regarding the alleged Quadracci incident. Councilwoman Lopez sent a letter to the District Attorney requesting that he investigate "an illegal SM club" in Mr. Quadracci's apartment. This incident was featured heavily in the NY Post and Daily News. Councilwoman Lopez stated to NCSF, "I believe in privacy rights for consenting adults," and that as long as "it's a private individual doing private things in their own home," then she has no problem with it. The legal case was eventually dropped against Mr. Quadracci.
Job discrimination continues to be a problem for individuals. NCSF helped more than a dozen people draft and file formal complaints with their employers regarding employment discrimination claims.
Altogether, NCSF staff members gave over 65 interviews with the media in 2004. Media Spokesperson Susan Wright gave 34 interviews throughout the year. A number of interviews were inquiries about the NCSF-Nitke CDA lawsuit, primarily with adult news media outlets like YNot, X-Biz and TheAdultWebmaster.com. Mainstream coverage of the case increased in the fall as the oral arguments commenced. Barbara Greenfield with Time Out NY interviewed Barbara and Susan for a feature to coincide with trial.
NCSF worked extensively with Time Magazine on an article by John Cloud about the SM community. Time published a thoughtful, positive article for the SM community in January 2004. In October, Primetime Live, ABC News Magazine, aired their survey on "American Sex Lives," by Holly Gordon. Susan was interviewed for this episode, and the coverage of alternative sexual expression was positive. Susan also gave interviews for two documentaries about SM.
Swing Spokesperson Sue Gould gave over 30 interviews about swinging and the Lifestyle in 2004. One of the bigger swing interviews for 2004 was with Detail's Magazine, explaining the importance of NCSF's work with the swing community. NCSF also released a statement supporting privacy rights when Jack Ryan, a Republican running for the Senate, was outed and vilified for attending swing clubs with his wife, actress Jeri Ryan. The reporting of the details in their divorce papers was highly sensationalistic and soon thereafter Ryan abandoned his bid for a Senate seat.
NCSF provided six media trainings for groups and events this year. Susan was also asked to look at over a dozen websites to give advice on what content would draw media and/or law enforcement attention. Susan also assisted one of NCSF's Coalition Partners in dealing with a local reporter who wanted to join their group and e-mail list.
NCSF On the Front Lines
NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please call NCSF for assistance. You can visit our website on www.ncsfreedom.org or call our office at 410-539-4824. If you have a media-related incident, you can call 917-848-6544. To find a lawyer, psychotherapist or doctor who is kink friendly, go to: www.ncsfreedom.org/kap
Please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!
The NCSF Incident Reporting & Response (IRR) program provides assistance to individuals and groups within the alternative sexual expression communities who become victimized because of SM, leather, fetish, or swing practices.
Program Goals: NCSF's Incident Reporting & Response was created to provide assistance to individuals and groups within the BDSM, swinging and poly communities who are experiencing discrimination or needs assistance because of their interests and activities.