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Our legislators work for us. They want to know what we think about issues on the local, state, and national level. You can always write letters and should but actually meeting with your elected official is easier than you think.

 

Our legislators work for us. They want to know what we think about issues on the local, state, and national level. You can always write letters and should but actually meeting with your elected official is easier than you think.

 

What is a lobby visit?

 

A lobby visit is a meeting where you tell your elected representative what you think about a certain issue or bill. Whether it is a City Council Member or your Congressional Representative, as one of their constituents you can ask them to take action on an issue or legislation.

You can find the office of your local and national elected officials in your area. Some Members of Congress have more than one office in their congressional district, and permanent staff members are usually available for you to meet with.

 

Requesting Your Meeting

 

Make your request in writing and follow up with a call to the Appointment Secretary/Scheduler.

 

Suggest specific times and dates for your meeting

 

Let them know what issue or legislation you wish to discuss.

 

Make sure they know that you are a constituent.

    Prepare for Your Meeting

     

    Contact the NCSF to help you decide on your talking points, and get information that you can leave with your elected official.

     

    Decide who will attend the meeting. Bringing more than four or five people can be hard to manage

     

    Agree on talking points. Your goal is to make a strong case for your position, so don't disagree in the meeting. If a point is causing tension in the group, leave it out

     

    Plan out your meeting keeping in mind that time is limited. Decide who will start the conversation, and which points each person will make

     

    Decide what you want achieve. Do you want your elected official to vote for or against a bill? Do you want them to support your issue or oppose a restrictive ordinance? Ask them to do something specific.

     

    During the Meeting

     

    Be prompt and patient. Elected officials run on very tight schedules.

     

    Keep it short and focused. You will have twenty minutes or less with a staff person, and as little as ten minutes if you meet with your elected official. Stick to your talking points.

     

    Know your elected official's record on similar issues or legislation. Begin by thanking them for voting in support of your issues, and for taking the time to meet with you.

     

    Leave only a few pages of information that contain your main points. Include your contact information.

     

    Provide concise personal and local examples of the impact of the legislation or issue. This is the most important thing you can do in a lobby visit.

     

    You don't need all of the information on an issue. If you don't know the answer to a question, it is fine to tell the elected official that you will get that information. This gives you the chance to contact them again about the issue.

     

    Set deadlines for a response. You sometimes won't get a definitive answer at the meeting. Ask when you should check back in to find out what your elected official intends to do about your request. If you need to get information to them, set a date for when this will happen.

      After the Meeting

       

      Right after the meeting, compare notes with everyone in your group to confirm what the elected official committed to do and what follow up information you committed to send.

       

      One of you should promptly send a thank you letter for meeting with you.

       

      Follow up immediately with any requested materials and information.

       

      If the elected official or staff member doesn't meet the deadline for action you agreed to during the meeting, ask him or her to set another deadline. Be persistent, polite, and flexible.

       

      Let NCSF know what you learned during your meeting by e-mailing: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

       

      Meeting with your elected officials is the best way to demonstrate that there is a constituency for civil liberties in your district. It's easy to make a difference.

       

      Links

       

      E the People
      Access to over 170,000 government officials in 9,800 towns and cities. Write a letter, start a petition, research election candidates and more!
       
      Project Vote Smart
      Biographical details and contact information for over 13,000 candidates and elected officials
       
      Write Your Representative
      From the U.S. House of Representatives website
       
      U.S. House of Representatives
      Full contact information for our Congressmen
       
      U.S. Senate
      Full contact information for our Senators
      Published in Activist Resources

      Guidelines intended to help law enforcement and social services professionals understand the difference between abusive relationships vs. SM. Drafted in 1998 at the second Leather Leadership Conference.

       

      The following Principles and Guidelines are intended to help law enforcement and social services professionals understand the difference between abusive relationships vs. consensual sadomasochism (SM). SM includes a broad and complex group of behaviors between consenting adults involving the consensual exchange of power, and the giving and receiving of intense erotic sensation and/or mental discipline.

       

      SM includes: "intimate activities within the scope of informed consent that is freely given."

       

      Abuse is: "Physical, sexual or emotional acts inflicted on a person without their informed and freely given consent."

       

      Principles

       

      The SM-Leather-Fetish communities recognize the phrase "Safe, Sane, Consensual" as the best brief summary of principles guiding SM practices:

       

      Safe is being knowledgeable about the techniques and safety concerns involved in what you are doing, and acting in accordance with that knowledge.

       

      Sane is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality, and acting in accordance with that knowledge.

       

      Consensual is respecting the limits imposed by each participant at all times. One of the recognized ways to maintain limits is through a "safeword" which ensures that each participant can end his/her participation with a word or gesture.

       

      Guidelines

      Informed consent must be judged by balancing the following criteria for each encounter at the time the acts occurred:

       

      • Was informed consent expressly denied or withdrawn?
      • Were there factors that negated the informed consent?
      • What is the relationship of the participants?
      • What was the nature of the activity?
      • What was the intent of the accused abuser?
      • Whether an individual's role is top/dominant or bottom/submissive, they could be suffering abuse if they answer no to any of the following questions:
      • Are your needs and limits respected?
      • Is your relationship built on honesty, trust, and respect?
      • Are you able to express feelings of guilt or jealousy or unhappiness?
      • Can you function in everyday life?
      • Can you refuse to do illegal activities?
      • Can you insist on safe sex practices?
      • Can you choose to interact freely with others outside of your relationship?
      • Can you leave the situation without fearing that you will be harmed, or fearing the other participant(s) will harm themselves?
      • Can you choose to exercise self-determination with money, employment, and life decisions?
      • Do you feel free to discuss your practices and feelings with anyone you choose?

       

      These guidelines were created by activists and leaders at the Leather Leadership Conference in 1998.

      Published in Activist Resources

      In light of recent attacks by religious and political extremists, here are some suggested guidelines for protecting your event and attendees, including website issues, spokesperson training, and community response to an incident.

      NCSF Suggested Guidelines

      There are many considerations organizers must contend with when planning a large event. Large events include educational and social conferences, leather contests, weekend play parties, vendor markets, and club runs. In light of recent attacks by religious and political extremists, here are some suggested guidelines for protecting your event and attendees.

       

      BEFORE YOUR EVENT

      NCSF recommends that you do outreach to local law enforcement. We can not stress enough the importance of doing so. There is no way to fly under the radar if you are hosting an event with a few hundred people that is being advertised over the Internet! Approach the Community Affairs Officer for the precinct in the jurisdiction where the event will be held. Law enforcement can tell you the local and state laws you must observe at your event.

      Make sure you investigate local and state obscenity laws. If you are hosting vendors at your event, you run the potential risk of violating state obscenity laws and/or state laws on certain items. Many states criminalize the sale of erotica that depicts bondage, sadomasochism, penetration or ejaculation. Additionally, many states also criminalize the sale of certain "toys" often found at event vendor fairs including throwing stars, certain styles of knives, police memorabilia (like badges or handcuffs) and so forth.

       

      YOUR WEBSITE

      Many religious and political extremist organizations have made a point of gathering information from our own community websites before they attack educational and social events. This information then gets distorted, misquoted and often ends up in the larger media. The mainstream media exposure can be problematic for groups.

       

      1. Be careful about the amount of detailed information you have on your website about your event. It may be prudent for your organization to restrict access to descriptions of classes and presenters to paid attendees or group members only. 

      2. Layer and password protect the website. Have pages with more information available to those who have registered and paid

      3. Do not use explicit language in the areas the general public can gain access to. Do not use words like dungeon or bloodsports or torture because the mainstream doesn't realize that our definition of these words refer to safe, sane and consensual sexual expression. If you want to have the colorful descriptions of the workshops and parties, have them on the page that is available to paid attendees.

      4. Consider not posting the name of the hotel/venue on the website. While there are certainly benefits in posting a hotel name, it can be prudent to give out the host hotel location information only to registered attendees. Some groups rent the hotel space in the name of their group/organization as a whole. Other groups find that this is not practical for them and opt to publicize the hotel name and allow conference attendees to make their own reservations. There are pluses and minuses to both approaches.

       

      IF YOUR EVENT IS ATTACKED

       

      You will know if your event is targeted because the venue will receive calls from religious political extremists. If your event or organization has been targeted by religious political extremists, please place the following blurb on your website so that media can contact NCSF for general information about safe, sane and consensual events for adults. You need to act fast because it can quickly become a nationwide media situation. For the good of our community it is important to have NCSF debunk some of the lies and scare tactics these folks are using against us. Please post on your website:

      For general information about [event name], please contact [contact info]

      If you are a member of the MEDIA, please contact Susan Wright with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 917-848-6544.

       

      YOUR EVENT SPOKESPERSON

      Prior to the conference, find someone in your community who can speak for your group - chose one person or things can get confused if they inadvertantly contradict one another. NCSF will train your spokesperson and supply them with soundbites and will work closely with them during the incident. This is very important because it shows the media that this is a local event produced by local volunteers rather than something that's being brought into the community. Please call Susan Wright at 917-848-6544 for media training.

      Your Spokesperson criteria:

      1. They must be out and able to use their real name - if they have custody of children or a sensitive job, they shouldn't do it unless they are out.

      2. They must be nonagressive and able to maintain their cool even when their buttons are pushed. You'll talk to media who say terrible things about us.

      3. They must be able to stick to the sound bites and aren't "chatty". Once you start chatting with media, you're sunk. No discussions of technique or practices - that's for educational events, not a mainstream audience.

      4. They must be articulate and well-spoken. 

      5. Most of the media coverage is radio or newspapers, but it also helps to have someone who can go on television. They should look as professional as possible so people won't reject them on first sight. They should be willing to wear a business suit.

       

      THE VENUE

      When you first begin negotiations with the venue, be completely honest and forthcoming. You may even let them know that they may be contacted and hounded by religious extremists. Forewarned is forearmed. Consider putting a clause in your contract that indicates hotel management is aware of the full nature and the scope of the event.

      Make sure your contract includes a clause for penalties if the hotel cancels the event. Most contracts will have a penalty clause attached if the promoter cancels. Protect your event by making sure it flows both ways. Make sure your contract includes a provision to notify you in the event of a management change. And make sure to include a substantial cancellation fee so the hotel will think twice about arbitrarily canceling your event. If there is a change in management, you will need to make sure that you do outreach to the new management. Assure them of the legality of what you are doing and let them know all the precautions you are taking to protect the hotel and its guests.

      Check the license structure of your host venue with local laws and regulations, such as the liquor licensing division. Alcohol and beverage control in your local area is often the enforcing arm for "adult entertainment" violations. Depending on local laws, venues that are licensed to serve alcohol may have trouble hosting a private adult event. It is better to know ahead of time and make provisions, than it is to find out at the last minute.

      If the parties, or portions of the event, are held off-premise, make sure that you have fully investigated all the licensing regulations, and conform to the requirements. Make sure the police you've been working with in the jurisdiction of the hotel are the same ones who run the jurisdiction where the social parties will be held. If not, you'll need to do outreach to the police in that jurisdiction.

      If on your own your event cannot fill an entire hotel, check to see if there is a local sex positive group or organization who can "share" the hotel with you. Coordinate their event dates with yours.

       

      DURING YOUR EVENT

      One way to protect your event is to keep it "private." The way to keep your event private is to have attendees register in advance and don't allow people to pay at the door. If you have an event that has different levels of registration, such as workshop only, workshops and one play party, etc., and want to sell upgrades, set up a special business office. The upgrades are only available to those who have already registered and paid for the event.

      Have a strict age policy that restricts your event to adults only. In America, anyone 18 or over is considered an adult. Many groups require that attendees must be 21 or over.

      Have a "no photography" of any kind policy. Establish in the rules that anyone caught with a camera, video or still, or any other kind of recording equipment, who did not have prior authorization, will be kicked out of the event with no refund, and may be banned from any future events as well.

      Many groups have found it beneficial to staff their event (at least partially) with off-duty uniformed police officers. You can check with the secondary employment unit at your police department to see if this is an option for you.

      Make sure precautions are in place to keep the general public out of those areas where they might see something that offends them:

      • Sight and sound barriers
      • Identification badges or bracelets (no ID, no entry, no expections.)
      • Badge checkers at every location where there is access to event spaces.
      • Have security guards on site at all times there are people present.

      AFTER YOUR EVENT

      Do a de-briefing with the hotel management. Make sure that you part on good terms, so that they will be willing to fight for you if there is a problem the next time you hold an event there. Additionally, make sure you follow up with the local police to maintain your relationship with them.

      Published in Activist Resources
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      • Helps hundreds of people every year who need assistance because of their consensual BDSM, swinging, or polyamory interests and activities.
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      About Incident Reporting & Response

      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.
      Contacts:

      Incident@ncsfreedom.org 
      Request For Assistance Form
      Emergency Number: (410) 539-4824

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