4th Quarter, 2011
In this issue
NCSF Annual Meeting, March 2012 in Minnesota
By: Sassy, CP Rep - Minnesota Stocks Debentures & Bonds
March is known for "March Madness" in Minnesota. It's a time of high school sports championships and interesting weather. Not to worry, we will keep you warm and safe from the snow! Join us for the Coalition Partner Meeting the third weekend of March in 2012 in Minneapolis, MN. We are already putting together a series of people ready to scoop you up at the airport and deposit you at the hotel!
The annual meeting is an opportunity for our Coalition Partners to send their representatives and help set NCSF policy, review and approve the budget and elect the board. NCSF has limited scholarships available to help facilitate the attendence of active Coalition Partner representatives to the meeting.
Consent Counts: Report & Looking to the Future
by the NCSF Board
Eighteen months ago NCSF kicked off a new program called Consent Counts. The program is a direct outgrowth of the direction of the more than fifty Coalition Partners who vote for the NCSF board, approve the budget and set the policies and programs of NCSF. In conjunction with NCSF's efforts to help remove SM from the DSM manual that classifies mental illness, the criminal prosecution of consensual BDSM is a real issue that the NCSF sees every day. NCSF's Consent Counts program is a long-term effort to both challenge and change those laws.
Consent Counts began primarily as a legal program. In the last year the NCSF has done a tremendous amount of work with people outside of SM community, along with SM related legal and legislative work. The effort to change the impact of California SB 430 is an example of that work.
The next step in the Legal part of the Consent Counts program is the development of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes for attorneys around the issues of consent in criminal law. The NCSF will be joining the Kody Brown/Sister Wives case by providing an Amicus, or friend of the court brief, in support of the decriminalization of consensual adult polygamy. By the end of the 1st quarter next year, NCSF will have an indexed list state by state available on the website citing relevant appellate or case law around consensual BDSM and providing the ability to search out laws in all 50 states that criminalize BDSM.
Our coalition has given more than fifty workshops around the country on the legal realities of consent in the law in the last year.
One of the things we have learned is that the legal work alone isn't enough. There has been an exponential growth in the numbers of requests NCSF has received for help related to consent issues in the last year. So, in an effort to be responsive to our constituencies we began to develop a guide for both victims of consent violations and those accused of consent violations. The two-part guide will have a section for victims who have had their consent violated and give them some tools for looking at what their options are (police, civil, outreach assistance, how to report, what to say etc.) Additionally, it will have another section for those who have had an accusation leveled against them (legal, criminal, civil, etc. The board anticipates having the guide available for public distribution at the beginning of next year.
Finally, the expansion of the Consent Counts program will include the publication of a community discussion guide that groups, workshop leaders, presenters, and events around the community can use to begin, develop, and turn into NCSF, the outcomes, of discussions around the issue of consent, what it means in their communities etc. To be very clear- the NCSF does not intend to develop some kind of unilateral statement regarding consent. The whole point of the of the Community Discussion Guide on Consent is to foster the discussion nationwide - leading to a policy summit at NCSF's next annual meeting in Minneapolis, led by Coalition Partners and finally to the development and creation of a statement about consent created at the Leather Leadership Conference (LLC)XIII in Seattle in 2013.
Consent Counts: Words from Our Board Chair
by Leigha Fleming
I believe- from the volume of requests and comments NCSF has had over the last 12-18 months that SSC- safe sane and consensual is a model that doesn't work for us as a community anymore. We've outgrown it the way a child outgrows the training wheels on his bike. There IS brand equity in SSC. It's still useful. We've done anamazing job over the last 25 years educating people outside out community about BDSM. SSC- due in no small part to the work of activists in our community has entered the modern lexicon -- CSI episodes, "consenting adults", safewords, and news stories that reference SSC. WE- the SM community- did that. But it's also become not much more than sloganeering... and it's not enough for us anymore.
We've been discussing these attitudes and growing the Consent Counts program dictated by our CPs who have said this is the most important work we can be doing.
I'm asking all of you to join the discussion - on Fetlife, in notices at SM events, in your local groups and on NCSF's website. As we distribute the Community Discussion Guide at the beginning of next year, ask an NCSF rep to come to your group, take the guide to your own groups and events and munches and launch a discussion. Send us your feedback. This isn't going to be easy. But the issues surrounding consent are significant- and unless we address them, we will fail in our mission.
For the people who say - you know what, I'm not responsible for some idiot who thinks consent given once never needs to be given again. I would say- you're right; that is, if you're sitting on the sidelines. If you stand up as an activist, as an educator, or leader in our varied communities- you are responsible. You signed up to be responsible and to educate intelligently and ethically when you stood up to be an activist, educator or leader.
If we can't change the social discourse around consent and BDSM, we can never change the political or legislative discourse. We can do this and I believe with deep conviction- that this is the most important issue facing our community today - both as we try to gain a more nuanced view of what consent is for ourselves and our partners and as we work with the outside world to change their perceptions about us and to change the laws that affect so many of us every single day.
Coalition Corner: Siege Works
1) What is the mission of your group?
It is to the primary goal of The Siege to create within the rich and vibrant gay and BDSM/Fetish Communities of Nashville, a reoccurring, sex forward, intense, & energetic, mens play party to serve the whole mid-south region. Attendees travel from as a far as two hundred miles away. We do not have a formal membership, rather we are a loose network who stay in touch through an email list and our own web forum. We host our parties at The Mark in Nashville, quarterly, in the past we have done so bi-monthly. Our second function, spreading information about BDSM play in a fun, sexy, face-to-face environment and provide a space for interaction between individuals who identify primarily with the BDSM community and individuals who identify primarily with the gay community. Though I've not had the opportunity yet, I would like bring our event to other regions to encourage the proliferation of real time face to face gay mens BDSM/Fetish culture.
2) What inspired your participation with the NCSF?
As sexual minorities living in the bible belt, the need for legal action to push back against those who wish to repress our liberties is omnipresent. The NCSF is the only organization with such a focus, and thus far we've been impressed with what they have accomplished and the network of support they provide.
3) What's your favorite way to do your NCSF fund raising?
Throw a wild party and divide the proceeds between our host organization and the NCSF.
Meet Your Board! Returning Member- Mercury
1) Do you have a history of activism and community involvement?
I have served the Middle Tennessee BDSM/Fetish/Kink community for over six years as the Executive Director of CPI, the 501(c)(7) non-profit corporation that runs The Mark in Nashville. During this time, we have hosted over 600 events in our "community center" and have been financially self-sustaining since we opened our doors.
I have been a regional presenter even longer than that, presenting an eclectic mix of subjects ranging from D/s Decorum and BDSM 101, to Team Topping and Physics of S/M Play -- hoping that I can give back more than I extract from the people I meet!
Additionally, I work with local university sexuality professors and certified sex therapists providing understanding opportunities offering lectures, discussion, literature, and facility tours to better educate them in regards to BDSM and polyamory.
So, yeah, I have been around and involved, helping strengthen our community as I can.
2) What specialties do you bring to the board?
In addition to my volunteer role as a dungeon-keeper, I have worked in corporate sales and marketing for years, worked as a program/project manager, and owned my own design firm; yet my biggest asset to the Board may be my location in the Southeast, where I can help the NCSF grow its presence and value in, perhaps, an under-involved region.
3) What inspired you to become involved in NCSF? (What does the NCSF mission mean to you?)
Once I became increasingly recognized as being in a position of local leadership, more people would approach me with issues that they needed help to resolve. Inevitably my research would lead me to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, who were the only people offering a sincerely sympathetic ear and real informed guidance.
It wasn't long before I came to realize that a key component to making my local/regional community more secure was to help make the NCSF safety net stronger. The best way I knew to do that was to step up and offer myself to the cause.
4) Anything else you'd like to add?
I would like to thank all of the people back home who work hard for their community and make me look good in the process! You folks are the best -- giving as you can to make life better for us all.
NCSF Newsletter: Winter January 2010
In this issue
NCSF Publishes Two Important Mental Health Guides
by: Susan Wright
NCSF and the Foundation are thrilled to announce two new and valuable additions to its line of publications.
The first is A Guide to Choosing a Kink-Aware Therapist , created by Keely Kolmes Psy.D. and Geri Weitzman Ph.D.
People who engage in BDSM need to be able to find a therapist who can accept them without judgment or prejudice. Some therapists cause more harm than good when they slap a label of mental illness on a client simply because they enjoy kinky sex. Fortunately, there are some therapists who have acquired the education necessary to work with people who practice BDSM, and who are accepting of their clients' BDSM lifestyles.
A Guide to Choosing a Kink-Aware Therapist will teach you how to locate such therapists, and how to choose from among the different kink-aware therapists that are available. NCSF is dedicated to ensuring that everyone can find a mental health professional who is understanding and supportive of your lifestyle, and believes this guide is an important addition to the Kink Aware Professionals list and the DSM Revision Project. You deserve a therapist who understands about the diversity and range of sexual expression, and this guide will help you find them.
The second publication has been five years in the making: Therapists Guide to Polyamory is edited by NCSF Foundation Chairman, James R. Fleckenstein, B.A., and Carol Morotti-Meeker, M.S., M.L.S.P. NCSF is dedicated to ensuring that therapists are educated about the varieties of sexual expression and relationship structures that our communities enjoy. Polyamory is gaining more visibility as more adults engage in consensual relationships with more than one person. But how does a therapist gain the understanding they need to deal with the many issues that arise when polyamory is involved?
Therapists Guide to Polyamory answers all of a therapist's questions about the purpose and practice of polyamory. Everything from the motivations and benefits of polyamory, to emotional and social concerns such as discrimination and family disapproval are covered. And of course, the relationship issues that arise from navigating more than one intimate relationship are explored, from safe sex to attaining parity and negotiating agreements. This guide is for polyamorists who need to explain their lifestyle to their therapist, and for therapists who understand that personal value systems may sabotage their goal of enabling their clients to explore options and life experience in a neutral or supportive way.
NCSF Protests Raid on Atlanta Eagle
by: Leigha Fleming & Susan Wright
Lawless cops are a threat to everyone in America
The Atlanta community was stunned when the Eagle was raided on September 10th: the local police illegally detained 62 patrons and 8 employees, searching them without a warrant, reasonable suspicion, or probable cause. Some were forced to lie face-down on the floor for over two hours. The strong use of force included the presence of the "Red Dog unit" which typically deals with crimes such as gang violence.
The police arrested eight employees for dancing in their underwear along with patrons during "Underwear Night", a weekly fetish event. The APD alleges that behavior violates a local ordinance that requires the bar to obtain a license for adult entertainment. According to the patrons, police officers shoved people to the ground, threatened to hit them in the head with barstools, handcuffed people, made racist and anti-gay comments, and forced patrons to remain flat on the ground, with their faces against a floor covered in some areas with spilled beer and broken glass, even long after they had been searched and found to be unarmed.
A Federal lawsuit alleging multiple civil rights violations was filed on November 24th on behalf of the patrons and the employees of the Atlanta Eagle by Lambda Legal, Southern Center for Human Rights, and Dan Grossman as representation for the plaintiffs. NCSF is actively involved in supporting the Atlanta Eagle and the plaintiffs in this suit. In speaking with Leigha Fleming NCSF Board Chair, Wednesday afternoon, attorney Dan Grossman said, "NCSF's publicity and support s very welcome and needed in this effort. The police believed that they could violate the rights of these men precisely because they were in a gay _leather_ bar." "We need everyone in the Alanta community getting involved in this," says Fleming. "There's a mayoral election coming up. Ask your candidates their opinions of the police action at the Eagle and whether or not they support the kind of bigotry and discrimination exhibited. Blog about it. Talk about it. All the various Eagle's around the country should link to this. Support this lawsuit and support NCSF."
NCSF joins state and local representatives in urging everyone to file a complaint if they were present at the Eagle on September 10th. You can file a complaint with the Atlanta Police Department and the Atlanta Citizen Review Board who are investigating the raid:
CONFIDENTIALITY IS GUARAN-TEED UNDER ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE. If you ask a lawyer for legal advice, the lawyer can't reveal anything you tell him, including your name: the police can't require it, your name can't be subpoenaed, and the court can't demand it. If a lawyer breaks attorney-client privilege, he or she will be disbarred.
"It's so important that our patrons come forward," says Richard Ramey, co-owner of the Eagle. "Everyone needs to hear how badly our civil rights were violated."
"Please call today!" urges Susan Wright, spokesperson for NCSF. "This is a clear human rights violation. If we don't speak up, they won't stop persecuting us. We are the only ones who can fight for our rights."
Shortly after the raid, NCSF sent a letter to Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington, Major Khirus Williams (Zone 5), Mayor Shirley Franklin and the City of Atlanta Human Relations Commission demanding an apology for this illegal behavior by the local police. Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington held a press conference September 14th, stating that the gay leather bar was raided because of anonymous complaints that came through the mayor's office.
"There was no need to show up with three paddy wagons and over 20 police officers. No drugs or weapons were found," says Fleming. "Doesn't the Atlanta Police Department have better things to do with taxpayer money than conduct witch hunts against men who may have been dancing in their underwear?"
For the month of June 2009, the last month criminal statistics citywide for the City of Atlanta were available (see the Uniform Crime Reports on the Atlanta Police Department website at http://www.atlantapd.org/index.asp?nav=Stats:10 murders, 6 rapes, over 2,000 robberies and larcenies and over 500 auto thefts were committed. In Zone 5 where the Atlanta Eagle is located, more than 35 crimes against persons including murder and aggravated assault and more than 700 crimes against property including auto theft, robbery and burglary were committed.
The Atlanta community spoke out against the violent police raid on September 19th, calling it a blatant "disregard for civil rights and common sense". The rally was organized by GLBTATL and mem-bers of Atlanta's LGBT community and supporters in front of Atlanta City Hall. According to GLBTATL's press release about the rally:
"To concerned citizens, such as GLBTATL, it seems that this police raid was not meant to investigate or deter crime. Rather, it sent a message that the LGBT community, comprising as much as one-eighth of Atlanta's residents, is second-class and not deserving of the same basic human respect as others. With only a paltry apology issued via the A.P.D. media office, this message of disrespect, a message that can easily turn into hate, has begun to echo throughout the gay community, and Atlanta as a whole."
To read more about what happened at the Atlanta Eagle, visit http://AtlantaEagleRaid.com
Consent Counts, Get Involved!
by: Judy Guerin
Now is your opportunity to become involved in our community's most important long-term project, a nationwide sexual freedom effort that-if we work together-will rank with the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement and the LGBT movement. The Consent Counts project, dedicated to decriminalization of BDSM-leather-fetish activities, is in the early stages of organizing under the leadership direction of NCSF. Leather leaders launched this community-wide project in 2006 and NCSF recently took a leadership role.
We need volunteers in many areas: strategic planning, marketing and public relations, legal, fundraising, organizational, political, Internet, policy, legislative, grass roots organizing and administrative. And, we will need a lot of money to achieve this goal. We need and want your support and involvement. If you can volunteer or help us raise funds, it would be a big help.
Coalition Partnership Stewardship
by: Ron Zimmerman
NCSF Appreciates Our Coalition Partners (CPs)
Everyone likes to be appreciated and the NCSF Board of Directors has come up with a concept that we hope will demonstrate the organization's appreciation and commitment to our Coalition Partners. At the last NCSF Board Meeting in Dallas, Texas, considerable conversation was devoted to what NCSF can do to continually improve our overall ommunication strategies. The concept of developing a "Coalition Partner Stewardship" program was one of the key concepts that came out of those discussions. One board member, was tasked with designing the plan.
The NCSF board is eager to announce the CP Stewardship initiative being named, the "Reach Out" program. The concept is to divide the CP list into Regions and to have a Board Member(s) specifically assigned to each CP. The forward plan is to have the assigned Board Member make it a priority to "reach out" and make contact with their assigned CPs during the 1st month of each quarter. These contact(s) will be tracked to ensure that each CP has been contacted. Additionally any issues/ideas that might result from the "Reach Out"
We hope that the CP Stewardship Program is viewed as valuable by our Coalition Partners and contributes to NCSF's overall strategy to continually improve our organizational communication. To become a Coalition Partner visit our website for more information. Look under JOIN, and read about the different levels of membership!
NCSF's Communications Decency Act lawsuit with Barbara Nitke made history by challenging the Miller standard of obscenity as it applies to the Internet.
Media reports covering the Communications Decency Act lawsuit launched by co-plaintiffs NCSF and Barbara Nitke: