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Unitarian Universalists Ratify Poly-Inclusive Language in its Nondiscrimination Standards

on Thursday, 03 July 2014. Hits 762

At its annual General Assembly on June 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.

"Beach police seize S&M items in death investigation"

on Thursday, 03 July 2014. Hits 526

The Virginian-Pilot

By Elisabeth Hulette
Margaret Matray

Police are investigating the death of a woman over the weekend and have seized recording devices and materials related to sadomasochism from the home where she was found.

Officers went to the condo in the city's Newtown section just before 9 a.m. Sunday, after the woman's fiance called 911, according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed in Circuit Court.

They found her dead on the living room floor with bruising on her face. The woman's fiance told police she had been drinking at a bar, and while there, the two had an argument. Once home, he said, she took the drug clozapine and asked him not to call 911 but instead engage in sexual-bondage relations with her when she passed out, according to the affidavit.

Clozapine is used to treat schizophrenia, according to a National Institutes of Health website.

The fiance, who had bite marks and scratches on his body, gave inconsistent statements to police, the affidavit said.

A police spokesman said officers are still investigating. According to the search warrant, items seized included a "fetish box," a camera, a towel, a pink dog leash, tape and a plastic gun. ...

"Get Your Kink Education with Sexpert Madam Cassie"

on Wednesday, 02 July 2014. Hits 336

Edge on the Net

by Winnie McCroy

Make your own fireworks this holiday at the 2nd Annual Touch of Flavor kink conference, July 4-7 in Baltimore. Headed by kink instructor and sexpert Madam Cassie, the conference offers more than 55 educational seminars and courses, live demonstrations and interactive play events like the Dungeon Gala. Whether you’re dabbling into "Shades of Grey" scenarios or are a hard-core S/M enthusiast, this conference has something for every level.

"I had worked within the BDSM community, which is very tight knit, and spread education amongst small groups, but with the push of ’Pink’ and "50 Shades’ and Rihanna’s new S/M song, we felt that trying to get this education to the mainstream was very important," said Madam Cassie in a recent interview. "It’s important to be fun and exciting, but we want to make sure it’s safe. So we decided to market it to the mainstream so that people would be able to get this education."

The conference features a wide array of 101 classes to introduce people to basic safety issues, plus interactive classes on topics ranging from kink, female ejaculation, strap-on play, piercing, flogging, electrical play, tantric sex, polyamory and basic dominance/submission.

Madam Cassie is no ingenue; she is a professional who has been teaching kink education and sexual techniques since 2008. She currently leads a non-profit social group for kinksters in the Mid-Atlantic region, and is a prominent voice in other organizations throughout the area. She will lead many workshops, and has tapped other seasoned educators to share their expertise.

"We have a lot of starter classes and introductions to things," said Cassie. "They’re not necessarily ’vanilla,’ but we make sure that they’re a good place for people to start, so that someone with no knowledge could leave here feeling like they learned something, and not like they’re in over their head."

She recommends that newcomers take the Kink 101 class, the only one which runs multiple times over the course of the weekend. It covers basic safety stuff, the terminology and protocols, what you should do at a BDSM party and basic negotiations with a partner.

"People are really bad negotiators, so we go over how to negotiate a scene with a partner to make sure everyone’s desire and safety is negotiated correctly," said Cassie. "We teach terminology so that you know the words, for example, dominant and submissive are not the same as top verses bottom."

In the vein of negotiating your best match is the course "Dating Your Species," in which you will learn how to get started finding a person who meets your desire and is a good match for you, because as Cassie notes, "dogs and cats shouldn’t be dating."

Other highlights include a class about African Americans within the BDSM community, an introduction to polyamory for those thinking of opening up their relationships, flogging and caning for beginners, five different classes just on rope, and Tantric sex for the pragmatic, which Cassie explains as being "about the connection during sex, without the spirituality behind it. It’s a good starter class for anyone interested in the Kama Sutra."...

"Officer’s Conviction in Cannibalism Case Overturned"

on Tuesday, 01 July 2014. Hits 304

New York Times


The 2013 conviction of a former New York City police officer in a plot to kidnap, torture, kill and eat women was overturned late Monday by a federal judge who said there was not sufficient evidence to support it.

The judge, Paul G. Gardephe of Federal District Court in Manhattan, granted the former officer, Gilberto Valle, a verdict of acquittal on the most serious count that he faced, kidnapping conspiracy. He could have faced life in prison on that count.

“The evidentiary record is such that it is more likely than not the case that all of Valle’s Internet communications about kidnapping are fantasy role-play,” Judge Gardephe said in a 118-page opinion issued late Monday night.

Mr. Valle, who was convicted in March 2013, had not yet been sentenced, and his federal public defenders had asked Judge Gardephe to grant him a new trial, arguing that the Constitution granted people — including police officers — “the right to fantasize about whatever and whomever they like, free from government interference.”

No women were ever abducted or harmed in the plot, but prosecutors told the jury that Mr. Valle had “crossed the line” while immersing himself in a fetish website where he communicated electronically with others about how he wanted to abduct women, butcher and cook them, and eat them.

Mr. Valle’s lawyers had argued that his plot was all part of a twisted fantasy — “no more real than the alien invasion” featured in the 1938 radio drama “War of the Worlds,” one defense lawyer, Julia L. Gatto, said in her closing argument.

But federal prosecutors argued that Mr. Valle had taken “concrete steps” to further his plans, including illegally looking up potential victims in a law enforcement database, carrying out surveillance of them, and using the Internet to research ways to abduct, subdue and cook potential victims.

“He left the world of fantasy; he entered the world of reality,” one prosecutor, Hadassa Waxman, said in her closing argument.

But Judge Gardephe wrote that “once the lies and the fantastical elements are stripped away, what is left are deeply disturbing misogynistic chats and emails written by an individual obsessed with imagining women he knows suffering horrific sex-related pain, terror and degradation.

“Despite the highly disturbing nature of Valle’s deviant and depraved sexual interests, his chats and emails about these interests are not sufficient — standing alone — to make out the elements of conspiracy to commit kidnapping.”

The case had drawn widespread attention both because it involved a police officer and because it raised the question of when does a virtual crime, discussed and plotted in Internet chat rooms, cross over into actual criminal activity, including what kinds of additional steps are needed to create an actual crime.

The judge said in “the unique circumstances of this extraordinary case,” he had concluded that the evidence offered by prosecutors at trial was not “sufficient to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Valle entered into a genuine agreement to kidnap a woman, or that he specifically intended to commit a kidnapping.” ...

"Swingers: Inside the Secret World of Sex Parties"

on Sunday, 29 June 2014. Hits 473

ABC News

Some couples say hooking up with strangers together, instead of cheating, helped their marriage.

And next, it's the young and the restless. We're going to meet some couples who say their unions are more secure and more honest because they don't believe in mog nothing my. They swear the secret to staying together is not having secrets at all.

I have been dying to wear this skirt. I have just been wanting to wear it. These sexy guests are all dressing to impress for a top secret invitation-only party.

They're all in committed relationships, but tonight, they're hoping to hook up with the other party Goers. They're swingers, who find passion with strangers. We're excited.

Yes. Finally here. Our story begins two years ago with these two curious couples.

Ginelle and Steven. Stuff that people do they want to try. Do you think we can do that?

And Michael and Sara. How did this all start for you? We made a bet for the super bowl.

If the patriots won, I got a free fling with another guy and if the giants won -- I got a threesome with another girl. And needless to say, the giants won. Call me old fashioned, but isn't there something odd about seeing your mate with somebody else?

I mean, we're not really the jealous type. We believe that sharing is caring. Welcome to behind closed doors.

Attending a posh swingers party like this is a first for both our couples. And here, the party Goers are strictly V. I. P. ...

"Fayette County landowner fights reputed sex club in Redstone"

on Sunday, 29 June 2014. Hits 327

TribLive News


By Liz Zemba

The former owner of a private club in Fayette County wants the man who rents the property cited for allegedly permitting on-site camping during events that cater to alternative sexual lifestyles.

Thomas Wajda, who said he no longer operates the clothing-optional Mountain Retreat along Route 40 in Redstone, said he rents the property to Ray Como, who has addresses in Pittsburgh and Redstone.

Online advertisements indicate the retreat hosts events through Pittsburgh Bridge, a self-described BDSM peer group. BDSM, according to, is an abbreviation for bondage and other sexual activity.

Como could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Wajda waged a three-year battle with the county and nearby residents to operate his club on the property, which is zoned for agricultural use. In 1998, he obtained a zoning certificate that allows a bed and breakfast to operate at the site.

Sara Rosiek, the county director of zoning, planning and community development, said the bed and breakfast zoning certificate does not permit camping.

Wajda, who has an ongoing landlord-tenant civil case against Como, said he went to county officials when a neighbor showed him photos of visitors camping on the property. The neighbor, whom he identified by first name only, did not return a Tribune-Review phone call.

Court documents do not list an attorney for Como. He could not be reached through a telephone number listed for him.

Wajda said the county has not yet acted.

Rosiek said that, because of the kind of activity detailed in online advertisements, she has not required anyone from her staff to visit the property to investigate the camping claim.

She said she is working with the county's solicitors to see if a citation can be issued based on the ads.

There are no plans to send an employee to a “June Play Party,” an event advertised online for Saturday, she said. ...

"Seth Mazzaglia found guilty of murdering Lizzi Marriott"

on Saturday, 28 June 2014. Hits 339

WHDH Channel 7 News

DOVER, N.H. (AP) - Defense lawyers and prosecutors stressed one thing throughout the trial of a 31-year-old man convicted of raping and killing a University of New Hampshire student: The key was the truthfulness of the defendant's ex-girlfriend.

The jury decided Friday that Kathryn McDonough, the star witness in Seth Mazzaglia's murder trial, was telling the truth, convicting Mazzaglia of first- and second-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott in October 2012.

McDonough, 20, first told investigators that she lured Marriott to their apartment as a sexual offering for Mazzaglia and she died while the women were engaged in consensual rough sex. She later testified that she made the story up because she still loved Mazzaglia and wanted to protect him. After getting immunity from prosecution, she testified that Mazzaglia choked then raped Marriott after she twice rejected his sexual advances. The Westborough woman's body was never found.

McDonough has already pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution and is serving 1½ to 3 years in prison. The plea deal was contingent on her telling the truth at trial.

Defense lawyers painted her as an opportunistic liar who killed Marriott then changed her story when she found out she could cut a deal and get less time in prison if she pinned the crime on her ex-boyfriend.

"The main thoughts were that she was a pathological liar most of her life and up until she took that witness stand, her life had been based upon lie after lie after lie," juror Maria Clifford, 52, said of McDonough. "I think Mr. Mazzaglia had control over her and she was afraid of him. We just thought, 'She's on the witness stand now and she doesn't have anything left to lose,' and she came to the realization that 'I need to do the right thing.'"

Clifford also said McDonough's efforts to reconnect with her mother after being estranged from her influenced jurors.

The verdict was bittersweet for Marriott's father, Bob, who read a statement in a shaky voice that broke several times. Mazzaglia's life sentence without chance of parole will never soothe their grief, he said.

"We will always miss her and we wonder what could have been," Marriott said. "In fact, the trial has been torturous for us. The truth of what happened to Lizzi is horrendous. And every time it's been told, it has reinforced the despair that we feel."

Marriott said the verdict, which included convictions on lesser charges of conspiracy, will keep a dangerous man off the streets and protect other women.

He also had harsh words for Mazzaglia's lawyers for what he called intentionally misstating his daughter's actions the night she died.

"Blaming a victim who is unable to defend herself is a typical ploy used by defense teams. If you are dead, you cannot correct a mischaracterization," he said. ...

"An updated swingers club with a political angle..."

on Saturday, 28 June 2014. Hits 355

Miami Herald Blog

A new Miami-Dade business run by a local elected official brands itself as “upscale” and “discreet,” features co-ed showers and advertises young women in seductive poses wearing very little. The strategy behind Flirts: updating what co-owner Geraldo Rodriguez calls a dated image of “swingers clubs.”

“It’s an open-minded, lifestyle nightclub,’’ said Rodriguez, who won elected seats on both Miami-Dade’s Republican Executive Committee and the county’s zoning board in Westchester. “We don’t want to say it's a swingers club. That's not what we are. That's back in the ’80s.”

Men wanting to join Flirts pay about $150 for a 60-day membership. For women, it’s about $20, Rodriguez said. It costs between $45 and $85 at the door, as well, though the 15 private rooms (equipped with a queen-sized bed, nightstand, wastebasket and hand sanitizer) are free.

The No. 4 rule at the Flirts club is “NO JOKING ABOUT PROSTITUTION,” according to a document received by the Herald and confirmed by Rodriguez. Flirts won’t be for prudes. The rules note: “You agree that you are not offended by nudity, adult themes or sexual situations/activities.”

Nelson Diaz, chairman of the Republican Party in Miami-Dade, emailed Friday to say Rodriguez was dropped from the membership roster of the local Executive Committee sometime after the spring of 2013. “I have no recollection of this person ever volunteering or being involved in the Miami Dade GOP or any Republican campaigns,” Diaz wrote. Rodriguez “was removed from the REC for failure to attend any meetings, so I don't think it would even be accurate to refer to him as a ‘GOP activist.’”

Rodriguez confirmed he has not been to the executive committee’s meetings, and that he is “probably not” a member anymore. Election records on file with Miami-Dade show he was elected unopposed to represent District 24 in August 2012.

Flirts, to be housed in a former shoe warehouse in the 8800 block of Southwest 132nd Street, faces some regulatory hurdles before it can open. County records show Miami-Dade inspectors ordered the renovation shut down in February, since Flirt hadn’t obtained a permit for the work. An electronic notation from Friday said “work continued” after the shut-down order, and showed a $500 fine issued for the property.

Rodriguez, a partner in the business opening Flirts, said a building permit has been filed and that he expects a July opening. And while his business faces sanctions from the county’s zoning arm at the same time he sits on a zoning board, Rodriguez said there’s no overlap between his roles as business owner and volunteer office holder. Flirts sits in the Kendall zoning district, outside of the territory governed by the Westchester panel that includes Rodriguez....

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