Is the military’s law making adultery a crime unconstitutional? So says a colonel who’s been charged with violating it. His motives aren’t great -- he’s trying to deflect attention from more serious charges, including rape. But he may be right. The law arguably discriminates by criminalizing only heterosexual adultery. And even if that vestigial aspect of the law could be fixed, there’s another problem: the anti-adultery law violates the fundamental right of privacy, which should extend even to armed-forces personnel, whose constitutional rights are limited by military necessity.
The issue has arisen in the context of a court-martial against U.S. Air Force Colonel Marcus Caughey. He’s been charged with rape, assault, taking a sexual selfie -- and six counts of adultery. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which governs uniformed personnel, adultery is a crime. Military prosecutors typically add the charge when a defendant is accused of other crimes. It gives them extra leverage, but also provides room for the factfinder, whether judge or jury, to reach a compromise verdict and find the defendant guilty of adultery even if it doesn’t find him guilty of rape or assault.
Caughey’s lawyers want to get rid of the adultery charge -- and, presumably, to change the narrative of the trial by refocusing attention on something other than the accusations against their client. It’s a creative argument.
The way the military adultery law works is a bit tricky, so bear with me, because it matters. Article 134 of UCMJ makes it a crime for a member of the armed forces to “prejudice good order and discipline” or “bring discredit upon the armed forces.”
That general language is then interpreted by the military to include various crimes including adultery. The military defines adultery as “sexual intercourse” when the parties are not married to each other and at least one of them is married to someone else.
But because it’s a relic of an earlier era, military law treats only heterosexual intercourse as qualifying.
That’s because in the bad old days, homosexual conduct was defined separately as “sodomy,” which was a crime distinct from adultery. That definition is still on the books, even though it would be unenforceable today.
Caughey’s lawyers say limiting the crime of adultery to heterosexuals makes the law unconstitutional because it discriminates against straight people relative to gay people.
You might find this argument laughable -- after all, the law is set up the way it is precisely because of the military’s history of anti-gay discrimination. It’s just an accident of changed constitutional circumstances that today, you can be charged with adultery only by having intercourse with someone of the opposite sex.
Or you might make the technical point that the law could in fact punish a person married to someone of the same sex if he or she had intercourse with someone of the opposite sex.
But Caughey’s argument isn’t ridiculous. There’s a long history of the courts striking down laws that discriminate on the basis of sex because they reinforce stereotypes. Arguably, this law is just as bad. It’s possible to imagine a court rejecting it.
There’s a simple remedy, however. The military could solve the problem by criminalizing all adulterous sex, whether straight or gay. And it wouldn’t require amending the UCMJ, just reinterpreting it officially.
Indeed, I can easily imagine a military court holding that, in the light of Supreme Court decisions legalizing gay sex and gay marriage, Article 134 of the UCMJ necessarily must be interpreted to extend to straight and gay people equally.
If that’s right, Caughey’s argument should lose, since the discrimination of which he complains doesn’t exist, legally speaking.
But there’s another constitutional problem, in my view more serious than the one Caughey’s lawyers raised.
The adultery prohibition violates the fundamental right to privacy, regardless of whom it covers.
In the landmark 2003 decision of Lawrence v. Texas, the court struck down laws prohibiting gay sex. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion didn’t rest on equality. Instead he wrote that the right to have sex with a consenting person of one’s choice was “central to personal dignity and autonomy.” ...
Meditation makes most Americans think of a Middle Eastern Indian or Tibetan Monk sitting in a lotus position at a monastery in the middle of nowhere, remaining still for many long, agonizing hours in their silent search for enlightenment. Most of us, however, have neither the patience nor the hip flexibility for such activities, and because we weren’t raised practicing meditation, we have only this skewed image of the practice that has been given to us by the media.
Guess what though? Driving a race car, coloring, watching a movie, or practicing BDSM can all be forms of meditation too. It’s not about the yoga poses — it’s about letting go of the relentless mind chatter and focusing solely on the present moment.
According to the Institute of Noetic Sciences,
“The most popular, widely adapted, and widely researched meditation technique in the West is known as mindfulness meditation, which is a combination of concentration and open awareness. Mindfulness is found in many contemplative traditions, but is most often identified with the Theravadan Buddhist practice of vipassana, or “insight meditation.” The practitioner focuses on an object, such as the breath, bodily sensations, thoughts, feelings, or sounds. The focus is not as narrow as in concentrative meditation, for there is a simultaneous awareness of other phenomena. This mindfulness practice is often extended to daily actions, such as eating, walking, driving, or housework.”
In my free time, I like to go rock scrambling and ride a motorcycle, both of which can be dangerous and potentially fatal if I let my attention wander. When I participate, I have to be completely focused on what I’m doing and fully mindful of my surroundings. I can’t be thinking about work, the electric bill, a boyfriend, or getting my car to the garage for a tune-up. The activity is intense and demanding, and therefore my mind is — must be — clear. When this happens, I lower my blood pressure, strengthen my immune system, and decrease my emotional anxiety just as much as if I were sitting quietly, meditating on a yoga mat.
The meditative form of BDSM is called “subspace.” My submissive clients describe it as an altered state of consciousness in which they feel completely liberated from stress. It’s a practice that allows you to completely let go of internal and external stress so that you can fully immerse yourself in the present moment. As the Dominatrix, I also experience a corresponding mental state of relaxation from my deep focus and concentration. ...
I have a pretty cane that I use during the colder seasons. It is my best friend. I walk everywhere with it and it has helped me from falling on my ass.
I also wield a flogger, handcuffs and a Hitachi magic wand. I am into orgasm denial (both giving and receiving). I also am into power play. I could go on and on about the shit I’m into, but I’ll leave it at: I am a filthy femme witchy Domme that switches between top or bottom.
Yes, I am disabled. But I am also kinky.
A lot of folks don’t realize that the two go hand in hand. Often, the articles that are out there talking about how to explore BDSM or kink don’t touch on the fact that there are disabled folks that indulge. And even more so, there are disabled folks that prefer to top and/or Dom(me). And here comes the question of: where the fuck do I go? Where are the spots I can go? How the fuck do I find play partners?
We are constantly desexualized — and we’re tired of it.
So, here are some tips for folks who are into some type of kink and want to explore, but have constantly shied away because guides like this didn’t exist for them.
While this is centered a bit towards Dom(me)s or tops, it can also apply to subs or bottoms.
Know your limits.
This is not just limited to the sub or bottom. It is important to know your limits and when you need breaks. Consent is important. Fetishization is never cute. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, you are NOT obliged to continue the session. If they’re invalidating your accessibility needs, even after a discussion, leave. You don’t need to stay and tolerate someone who doesn’t accept you and treats you like a fuck toy or a burden.
Fetlife can be your friend.
Yes, Fetlife has a lot of creeps. I have the unsolicited dick pics to prove it. But Fetlife can also link you to events — like munches, where you can meet kinksters in street clothes, and play parties, where you can have a bit of fun. Often, events will mention if they’re accessible and if it is possible for you, you can meet other folks to help guide you in kink or join the journey with you. ...
The Sexual Freedom Resolution is a stand against discrimination by professionals in the field of sexuality and sexual health. This Resolution can be submitted to civil, criminal and family courts by people who are stigmatized because of their sexual expression in order to help them get a fair trial on the merits of their case. We encourage organizations that serve mental and health professionals to sign onto this resolution, as well as educational groups and Kink Aware Professionals.
To sign on, email
Sexual Freedom Resolution Working within the framework of social justice and human rights, we support the right of freedom of sexual expression among consenting adults. We affirm that sexual expression is central to the human experience, that this right is central to overall health and well-being, and that this right must be honored. We support the right to be free from discrimination, oppression, exploitation and violence due to one’s sexual expression. The best contemporary scientific evidence finds that consenting adults who practice BDSM, fetishes, cross-dressing and non-monogamy can be presumed healthy as a group. We believe that any sexuality education or therapies that treat sexual problems must avoid stigmatizing or pathologizing these forms of sexual expressions between fully informed consenting adults. As professionals in the field of sexuality and sexual health, we actively seek to destigmatize consensual sexual expression and sexual practices among consenting adults, as well as to help create and maintain safe space for those who have been traditionally marginalized.
I recently realized that the benefits I get from practicing yoga—peace, energy, strength—I also get from another activity: BDSM. With yoga, when I hit the mat, nothing else matters. I am no longer a student, I don’t have homework or responsibilities. I just go through the motions, shift poses as I breathe in and out, move my body, push it further. In BDSM, I identify as a “bottom,” which means that in a scene—the space and scenario in which my partner and I play—I’m not necessarily submissive, but I am on the receiving end of pain and/or sensations. BDSM is a vital force in my life, part of my sexual identity, though not always sexual. It’s something I need on a regular basis, much like exercise.
According to a research team studying the science of BDSM at Northern Illinois University, it makes sense that yoga and bottoming have similar benefits, especially when it comes to altered states of consciousness. NIU’s team, led by professor of social and evolutionary psychology, Dr. Brad Sagarin, had participants put into pairs for a scene with one person topping and the other bottoming. Using questionnaires, cognitive testing (specifically the Stroop test), and saliva samples to measure the stress hormone cortisol before and after the scenes, Sagarin’s team concluded that both tops and bottoms enter into (different) altered states of consciousness.
For tops, this state is called “flow” (or here, topspace). Kathryn Klement, a doctoral candidate in the social psychology program at NIU, says, “In topspace, individuals feel like they are in the moment and [aware of their] next steps. While people in subspace report feeling sort of dreamy and out of it, people in topspace are very focused and driven.”
While flow is an altered state of consciousness, it doesn’t affect one’s cognitive functioning as much as a bottom's state of altered consciousness, called “transient hypofrontality” (here, subspace). Arne Dietrich originally proposed the transient hypofrontality hypothesis and investigated it as runner’s high. He suggested it was possibly analogous to meditation, and other mind states, such dreaming, hypnosis, and various drug highs. Klement explains that “when we engage in certain activities, our brain has to redirect bloodflow to certain parts based on priorities.” She added that the theory of transient hypofrontality suggests that “during this altered state, there is reduced bloodflow to the part of the brain which handles a lot of executive function, like working memory, attention, and temporal integration.”
This state was also reflected when researchers found that bottoms' cortisol levels went up during the scene (as their bodies responded to stress), but their self-reported levels of stress went down. “This is why,” Klement says, “people in such an altered state report effects of time distortion, disinhibition from social constraints, and changes in focused attention.” Other subjective experiences of subspace include reduction of pain; feelings of floating, peacefulness, living in the here and now; and little active decision making. ...
Love doesn’t just come in pairs. Is it time that marriage laws come to recognise the fact?
By Melissa Hogenboom / Pictures by Olivia Howitt
As a child Franklin Veaux recalls hearing his school teacher read a story about a princess who had a tantalising dilemma. Two male suitors had been wooing her and she had to choose between them. Franklin wondered why she could not choose both.
This early insight was revealing. Franklin has to this day never stuck to one relationship at a time. “I have never been in a monogamous relationship in my life. When I was in high school I took two dates to my senior prom. I lost my virginity as a threesome.”
Today he lives with his long-term girlfriend in a home he shares with her other boyfriend. Occasionally his partner’s teenage daughter also stays over. He is also in four other long-distance relationships, people he sees with varying degrees of frequency.
Franklin and his girlfriends are what’s called polyamorous or “poly” as the community tends to call it. Being poly simply means you can be in more than one relationship, with the full support and trust of however many partners they choose to have.
Polyamory does not feature in any census tick box but anecdotal evidence suggests that it is on the rise. Some are even calling for it to be recognised by law following the legalisation of gay marriage in the UK and the US. All this raises of the question of whether the future of love may be very different from our current conceptions of romance.
But love has always been the same, right? A man falls for a woman, they get married, pop out a few children and stay together in a harmonious and monogamous relationship for life.
Sorry romantics. This wasn’t, and still isn’t, always the picture of love. Polygamy – where more than one spouse is allowed – was the norm for many of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Monogamy started flourishing when our ancestors began to settle down. A preference for it then appears to have arisen, among many other reasons, for economic purposes.
As many as 83% of societies around the world allow polygamy
It made it easier for fathers to divide and share valuable commodities such as land with their children. Monogamy later got hijacked by romantic love by idealistic 19th Century Victorians. “The idea of sexual exclusivity started emerging fairly late in the game,” says professor of law Hadar Aviram at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, US.
Even today monogamy is the minority relationship style around the world. Cultural estimates suggest that as many as 83% of societies around the world allow polygamy.
Now there is a fairly new player in the relationship game, at least as far as the public are concerned. In the last two decades, sociologists, legal scholars and the public have shown great interest towards polyamory and it’s making them reassess the very nature of romance.
The word polyamory was first coined in the 1960s and literally means “many loves” in Latin. That’s exactly what it is, but talking to poly individuals makes it quickly apparent that there is no one way to be poly. There are no immediate rules. Some people, like Franklin have live-in partners with additional liaisons outside the home. Others have a mixture of short and long-term relationships.
Some live in a big group with their partners and their partner’s other partner(s), so called “family style polyamory”. You get the idea. The one thing they all have in common is openness, understanding, trust and acceptance from all involved.
As you might imagine these kinds of relationships take a lot of work to maintain, so being poly is far from an easy option. For starters, to keep more than one relationship going, small logistical matters require a lot of communication. “Our relationships are a lot more challenging,” says Eve Rickert, one of Franklin’s long distance partners and co-author of their polyamory book More than Two. ...
Welcome to Louisiana, where women who are old enough to vote and join the military have just been declared children under the state law, at least when it comes to sex and certain forms of employment.
Why? Ostensibly, it has to do with sex trafficking. Under the new law, "sex trafficking victims" ages 18-20 cannot be convicted of prostitution. Sounds reasonable, right? But Louisiana law already declares that sex-trafficking victims—of any age—are to be excluded from prostitution charges ("No victim of trafficking ... shall be prosecuted for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked"). What the new law actually does is declare all 18- to 20-year-old sex workers as de facto trafficking victims, even if they're workin 100 percent willingly and independenty. No matter if there's no "trafficker" exerting force or coercion, Louisiana law considers them victims, rather than perpetrators, of a crime.
So Louisiana just effectively decriminalized prostitution for 18-to-20 year olds? That's the positive spin we can put on it.
Conversely, however, the state has made anyone who works with or helps young-adult sex workers—a friend who gives them a ride, escort agency owners, other sex workers, and their clients—into folks guilty of the crime of human trafficking. And not knowing the age of the "victim" is no defense.
Those convicted must register as sex offenders and spend a minimum of 15 years in prison. The law, which takes effect August 1, allows for a maximum sentence of up to 50 years. So a 20-year-old woman working in the sex trade independently—posting her own ads online, running her own website, arranging appointments with clients, keeping any money she makes—cannot be charged with prostitution, but anyone who books an appointment with her could face a lifetime on the sex-offender registery and a mandatory minimum prison sentence of over a decade.
The age of consent in Louisiana, by the way, is 17-years-old. Fourteen, 15, and 16-year-olds can legally consent to sex with someone up to age 17. But if a 17-year-old attempts to pay an 19-year-old for sex, they could spend 50 years behind bars. ...
For growing numbers of people, monogamy just doesn't work. So what happens when you throw out the rule book? Tanya Sweeney meets the couples in love with polyamory
Much as its name suggests, polyamory is the practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the consent of everyone involved. It's a different entity to 'swinging' (which is simply sex with different partners), or having a bit on the side (most polyamorous people see their partners as equal in terms of love).
Catalina Vieru, a 29-year-old European Voluntary Service worker from Dundalk, first heard the word 'polyamory' six years ago. As it happens, she was already in an open relationship with another man.
"I never felt like I could be monogamous," she explains. "With my ex-partner, we decided that the safest for us would be to have a sexually open relationship, meaning that it was okay for both of us to date or have sex with others, as long as we didn't get involved emotionally.
"During that time, I started wondering about what would happen if I'd allow myself to develop feelings also.
"After we broke up, I started dating a woman and we talked a lot about polyamory and we started dating different people and creating different bonds. What helped a lot (and still does) was a very real, authentic communication.
"We've been together for two years," she adds. "At the moment, I am also involved with three more people and a couple, and I have a different type of connection, all very special, with each of them."
Certainly, Catalina could be onto something: it's not likely that one lover will fulfill all needs (romantic, intellectual, sexual, emotional), and having different lovers to fulfil different needs sounds like a good way of getting most needs met. And, contrary to popular belief, a poly relationship can be every bit as loving, honest and committed as a monogamous one.
Part of the power of polyamory, say its practitioners, is that honesty, respect and communication are paramount to keeping the wheels of the relationships greased. Polyamorous people aren't oversexed or promiscuous, and no one is cheating or coercing a partner into a relationship they don't want. There is no need for clandestine encounters or affairs, because everyone in a poly relationship is on the same page.
Monogamous relationships aren't without their complications, certainly, but the fact that three or more people are involved in a poly relationship means that the interpersonal combinations are plentiful.
There is a 'V' (one person is the 'hinge', and has two lovers who aren't romantically involved with each other), a 'triad' or 'quad' (a relationship between three or four people). A 'W' denotes a fivesome in which two lovers have their own separate lovers.
"I do believe they all have the same potential of being as honest or dishonest as the monogamous relationships," says Catalina.
"If you nurture a safe space for all the people involved to feel supported, listened to, respected and valued, then you will have a committed and honest relationship, regardless of its type."
IT engineer Balazs Balogh, 31, originally from Hungary but living in Galway, became aware of the concept through a web-comic, and found his mind sufficiently 'blown'.
"Up until that point I believed I came up with the whole thing, then I discovered there's a worldwide community with more or less the same idea," he explains.
"My first tries were far from perfect; in hindsight they were rather set up to fail as my partners weren't explicitly poly themselves while being okay with the general concept.
"That's how we learn I guess.
"I'm married and have two kids, so that forms a foundation to build on," he adds. "I usually meet my other partners separately, and have time dedicated just for them.
"We've had a partner living in with us full time for a few weeks once, and I still hold that time dear. If people would've seen it they would be surprised how 'ordinary' it all was.
"One thing that particularly stuck with me was when they were cooking together while having a chat, it was so heartwarming I could've watched them for hours. There's this saying that gets thrown around a lot by poly people that by loving more, love doesn't run out, but multiplies. I felt exactly that."
That's not to say that complications don't arise: "Some poly people say they just don't feel jealous and never did - God, I wish I was like that, because feeling envious or jealous is really not fun," Catalina reflects.
"I think most of my current partners feel the same way. Once we get emotionally involved with someone, we start feeling envious when that person is seeing other people and spends time with them. I deal with it by being very self-aware and knowing that envy appears because of my fears and it has nothing to do with my partner or their partner." ...