Our BDSM communities could be adversely impacted by a well-intentioned, but overly broad, piece of proposed criminal legislation that has been introduced by Senator Christine Kehoe in the California Senate. NCSF is asking all of you to sign and send to NCSF letters (a draft is attached below) that we can introduce if necessary at a hearing likely to be held in April, 2011.
The purpose of the bill, SB 430, is to permit effective prosecution of strangulation or suffocation "in domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and elder abuse cases." But the bill's application could go far beyond those situations and result in felony prosecutions for use of hoods, gags and the like in BDSM play. There would be no requirement of "an intent to kill or injure," or of "visible injuries," and there is no mention of consent as a defense.
NCSF has been in touch with Senator Kehoe's staff, which has seemed sympathetic, and has proposed modifications of the bill's language that would address our concerns. Now we need to follow up by presenting at the hearing as many letters as possible that support the goal of prosecuting domestic violence, but only if language is inserted that protects our communities.
We urge you to sign the attached letter, modified as you see fit, and send it back to NCSF.
National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
822 Guilford Avenue, Box 127
Baltimore, MD 21202-3707
Re: SB 430 (Kehoe) Strangulation
I fully support the worthy goal of Senator Kehoe's proposed legislation, to ensure that strangulation and suffocation can be effectively prosecuted in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and elder abuse. But I am very concerned that SB 430 as now worded might be used to prosecute elements of non-harmful, consensual BDSM (Bondage, Domination/submission, Sadomasochism) activity between adults, such as the use of gags or hoods. This could subject millions of tax paying, law-abiding Americans to criminal prosecution, merely for engaging in erotic, mutually pleasurable conduct.
Therefore I and thousands of other Californians would be able to support this otherwise valuable legislation only if it is modified by specifically excluding non-assault activities.
I join you in urging Senator Kehoe to incorporate in this bill the language NCSF has proposed.
Your Address (with ZIP CODE)
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.