At its annual General Assembly onJune 25-29, in Providence, RI, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) overwhelmingly ratified amendments to its nondiscrimination rule, including "family and relationship structures" to its list of specifically protected groups.
The language was introduced by Desmond Ravenstone, a delegate for the Arlington Street Church of Boston, Massachusetts, and Jasmine Walston of the First Unitarian Church of Louisville, Kentucky. Ravenstone is also Moderator of Leather & Grace (L&G), an educational and support organization devoted to promoting awareness of BDSM, kink and fetish sexual identity; Walston is Secretary of Unitarian Universalists of Polyamory Awareness (UUPA).
"Leaders of our two groups have discussed what kind of language we'd like to see added to the new rule," Ravenstone explained. "Jasmine and I felt that 'family and relationship structures' covers a wide range, especially regarding polyfolk."
The UUA's previous General Assembly had begun the two-stage process of replacing the nondiscrimination language in its bylaws with a broader and more positive "inclusion" language, while retaining the old language in a supplementary rule which would be easier to amend. There had been discussions of what changes would be introduced to the rule, but no concrete proposals until this year's Assembly in Providence, Rhode Island.
Delegates at a "mini-assembly" where final revisions may be incorporated approved three such amendments: replacing "race" with "racialized identity" as proposed by anti-racism activists; expanding "gender" to "gender expression, gender identity" and "sex" at the urging of the UUA's transgender community; and "family and relationship structures" introduced by Ravenstone and Walston. The mini-assembly voted to approve all three changes as a single incorporated amendment to be brought to the full Assembly during its seventh session two days later.
At the General Assembly session, the full amendment was discussed and overwhelmingly approved. "There was no one debating against," Ravenstone recalled, "and no questions about the poly-inclusive language that Jasmine and I had brought forward. Looking at the delegate voting cards going up and down, and the results of 'off-site' delegates voting remotely over an Internet connection, I only saw one vote opposed."
Ravenstone also believes the new language may be embraced by other groups as well as polyamorous individuals and households. In particular, many relationships identified with BDSM could be considered as falling under this description. "We still have a ways to go assuring that kink-oriented people have equal standing in our progressive faith, but this is definitely a positive step towards right relationship."
Leather & Grace, a Coalition Partner of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) remains committed to education and advocacy among Unitarian Universalists to build upon the success of this recent collaboration with their UUPA allies.
Consent isn’t black and white – in fact sometimes what’s legal isn’t considered to be ethical by kinky people, and sometimes what kinky people consider to be ethical isn’t legal. Come join our interactive discussion to talk about the concepts of risk, limits, renegotiation, and how consent is given in scenes vs. power exchange relationships. We’ll look at the results of NCSF’s Consent Survey and see where the respondents largely agreed (you can revoke consent at any time), and where there was significant disagreement (above a certain degree of injury, there should be prosecution even where consent was given). Come talk about how the community is dealing with consent, so NCSF can hear from everyone what your shade of consent is.
The Ombuds Committee for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) handles complaints and concerns regarding the conduct of NCSF officers and staff, and the operations of NCSF institutions. The NCSF Ombuds Committee shall be established as an Advisory Committee, as per NCSF bylaws, to review Coalition administration and activities, assuring ethical and effective fulfillment of NCSF’s mission and goals.
The Committee shall consist of three people, appointed annually by and accountable to the NCSF Board, for rotating two-year terms. The members may be reappointed for one subsequent two-year term. The members must be members in good standing with NCSF, either a Coalition Partner representative, a Supporting Member, or an Individual Member.
Please send your nominations to:
1. Name and contact info of nominee – email and/or phone #
2. Professional experience that would assist you in performing the job of an Ombuds volunteer
3. Experience in the kink, leather, fetish, swing or polyamory communities that is relevant to performing the job of an Ombuds volunteer
4. References, professional and/or alt sex communities related.
Nominations will close May 8th, 2014.
Interviews of the nominees may be conducted by telephone or Internet chat. Applicants shall be assessed for the following:
a.knowledge and experience of processes for arbitration and/or adjudication of disputes;
b.familiarity with NCSF’s mission, bylaws and policies, and the ethos of the Coalition’s constituent communities (BDSM/kink/fetish, polyamory, swing);
c.capacity to remain objective and impartial in reviewing information;
d.overall character and reliability.
To prevent potential conflicts of interest, no Ombuds Committee member shall concurrently serve as an officer, staff member, or Board member of NCSF. The Committee shall select a chair from amongst its members annually.
NCSF is here to help you, so please help us! Support NCSF by becoming a member, volunteering or donating today! www.ncsfreedom.org
Sex. It’s called the guilty pleasure. All too often - if it’s gay sex - it’s considered a shameful pleasure.
10 years ago my lover of twenty two years and I recognized a social need. There was no safe secure club in New York City where men could engage in sex that wasn’t clothed in darkness or a subliminal negativity. So we opened a private men’s sex club whose purpose was to provide an environment where sex could be talked about and engaged in with a positive attitude. We felt that a safe, positive and comfortable setting such as ours would give people the freedom and security to develop healthy practices. We knew that the implicit shame in “underground, closeted” sex only fostered unsafe practices. In fact, we watched over the years as condom use increased and conversations between positive and negative men, about sex and risk, became more commonplace.
After seven years in operation we received a letter from Mayor Bloomberg’s Midtown Task Force, stating their intention to close us down. Our letter of response reminded them of our work and openness with the state and city representatives and invited them to meet with us about our business. That meeting was declined.
Then on November 16, 2006 a task force of Mayor Bloomberg’s came just as the staff had opened and rushed them out of the club, with just enough time to gather their things, and padlocked the door. In spite of our organization as a private membership club, in spite of our involvement with the city and state for three years on the Commercial Sex Venue Working Group (CSVWG) forum, we were forced to close. At the time the Gay City News reported that the summons filed by the city detailed a list of sexual acts. The majority – up to of 80% of those cited in the summons -were cited as safe sex acts.
EL MIRAGE - that was the name of the club - strived to be a good business citizen. We paid taxes, had unemployment insurance and workman’s compensation, provided CPR training/ certification for our employees. We supported groups like The Anti-Violence Project and Ryan-Nena Community Health Center. We had HIV testing and STD counseling on a regular basis. We worked with the CSVWG.
We operated strictly as a private membership club. We knew that a state health law – written in the late eighties to justify the closure of gay bathhouses - forbade public establishments from providing facilities for sex. In CSVWG meetings with health department representatives, we were even told that the officials would honor this interpretation of the law and not pursue enforcement.
Why close El Mirage? What could be the compelling reason? NO SHAME. Operating illegally, underground with no community awareness is tolerated because those in power don’t look like they are condoning gay sex.
Ted Haggard’s shame would only allow him to admit to having massages by a male while using crystal meth, asking for forgiveness for the part of his life “that is so repulsive and dark.” James McGreevy came out to divert attention from his breaking corruption scandal to gain sympathy for the “suffering and anguish” of his homosexual lifestyle. Andrew Sullivan has said he wants gays and lesbians to be considered “normal.”
Now, what is normal? Shame? Shame defined in Wikipedia is “the consciousness or awareness of dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation.
The question may be: whose consciousness or awareness shall lead us? Certainly not Haggard’s, McGreevy’s, Sullivan’s or a mayor of New York City. Any kind of consensual sex by persons of the same, or appropriate ages, should carry no shame. The dishonor, disgrace and self-condemnation are tools of the closet. As long as we are neutered, we are tolerated. But the idea that two men or two women have actual intimate physical contact brings our rights into question.
One of the philosophies from the sixties that was transformed, yet kept alive in the seventies by the gay and lesbian movement, was that of embracing our physical being as something spiritual and enlightening. Gay men developed this philosophy with more sexually expressive freedoms. Lesbians in turn developed a women’s health movement and a collective identity so beautifully proclaimed in “Our Bodies, Our Selves.”
This openness scared many people, straight and gay alike. A resurgence of shame for sexuality was re-established throughout society. And this fear of ourselves, or should I say shame of ourselves, has brought us back to the oppression we see tolerated today. This shame prevents open and educated communication concerning sex, disease, and alternative lifestyles.
Who we are physically intimate with is one facet that makes us different from others - joyfully so. It gives us a novel -even revolutionary- perspective on the world around us.
Shame is a terrible demon. After all, your shame could be considered my “normalness.” And it has no place being anywhere near sex, which is a glorious gift from the Universe.
To read more blogs by Joel, go to: http://www.tumblr.com/search/joel+czarlinsky
Washington D.C. – NCSF has filed an amicus brief in a military case involving a marine who engaged in a consensual threesome and because of that was convicted of adultery, attempted consensual sodomy and indecent conduct, a "crime" based solely on undefined sexual conduct inconsistent with "common propriety."
In its brief, NCSF points out that military law is out of sync with U.S. Constitutional law and societal mores, especially when it comes to consensual sexual behaviors. Dick Cunningham, NCSF's Legal Counsel who prepared and filed the brief, said, "This is an important case in which we have challenged ways in which courts have criminalized consensual sexual conduct in what we regard as direct violation of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark sexual freedom decision in Lawrence v. Texas."
Lawrence held that non-injurious consensual sex among adults cannot be criminally prosecuted, and that moral disapproval is not a sufficient justification for a criminal law. In this case, the military court used a spurious "public sex" argument to evade the Lawrence ruling.
Filing legal briefs is an important part of NCSF’s mission in its attempts to decriminalize consensual adult sexual behavior. NCSF awaits the decision of the military court on whether its amicus brief will be accepted. To view NCSF's brief and case legal documents on this case, visit https://ncsfreedom.org/who-we-are/about-ncsf/item/715.html