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Introduction
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
(NCSF) is a national advocacy organization promoting tolerance of consenting adults who practice safe, sane and consensual alternative forms of sexual expression. NCSF represents the millions of Americans who suffer discrimination and persecution because of their normal interests in some form of alternative sexual expression.

What is Alternative Sexual Expression?

Some Quick Facts:

  • Millions of adult Americans practice some form of SM, fetishes, swinging or polyamory in their loving and caring relationships.
  • These people have created over 500 local nonprofit support groups, and hundreds of businesses across the country.
  • This is not some "tiny" minority, nor is it one whose members are on the "fringes" of society. People from all walks of life, including professionals, parents, teachers and police officers; and individuals of all sexual orientations, practice alternative sexual expression in some form.
  • In the 1999 Violence & Discrimination Survey conducted by NCSF, of the 1,000 people surveyed who practiced SM-Leather-Fetish activities, 30 percent had suffered discrimination and 36 percent had suffered violence or harassment because of their interests.

 

Additional Information:

What is SM?
Overview of S/M as a sexual orientation, contrast between SM & domestic violence & more

SM vs. Abuse
Guidelines for distinguishing between safe, sane & consensual SM & abuse

Interview Contact List
Individuals from the SM-Leather-Fetish community available for interviews

What is the Lifestyle?
Overview of demographics of swingers, and social and sexual attitudes

What is Polyamory?
Overview of demographics of polyamory, benefits and types of relationships.

For additional information, contact Susan Wright at 917-848-6544 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Published in Media Resources

NCSF and the Foundation are proud to announce two new and valuable publications: A Guide to Choosing a Kink-Aware Therapist, and the Therapists Guide to Polyamory.

Guide to Choosing a Kink-Aware Therapist, created by Keely Kolmes Psy.D. and Geri Weitzman Ph.D., will help people who engage in BDSM find a therapist who can accept them without judgement 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.

"Over the years, I have received many calls from folks around the globe who wanted access to therapy that was respectful of their kink identity, but didn't know where to turn to find it," says coauthor Geri Weitzman, PhD. "We are excited to share this resource on finding kink-aware therapists with our community, in the belief that a warmly accepting therapeutic environment should be available to all."

"Therapy needs to be a place where you can feel safe to bring your whole self. I hope that our article is a helpful tool for kink-identified clients and the therapists who want to learn more about working competently with them," agrees coauthor Keely Kolmes, Psy.D.

The second publication has been years in the making: Therapists Guide to Polyamory was written by Geri Weitzman, Ph.D., Joy Davidson, Ph.D. and Robert A. Phillips, Jr., Ph.D., and edited by NCSF Foundation Chairman James R. Fleckenstein, B.A., and Carol Morotti-Meeker, M.S., M.L.S.P. This guide 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. Polyamorists can use this guide 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.

"For too long, polyamorous clients have consistently expressed concerns that their therapists completely failed to understand the clients' lifestyle choices at best; at worst, therapists immediately pathologized the clients' lifestyle and ascribed all of the clients' issues solely to the decision to have nonexclusive relationships," says NCSF Foundation Chairman Jim Fleckenstein. "This piece, written by three clinicians and thoroughly supported with three pages of references, should help put an end to this practice. I was deeply honored to have had the opportunity to co-edit this vital work."

NCSF is dedicated to ensuring that everyone can find a mental health professional who is understanding and supportive of alternative lifestyles, and believes these guides are an important addition to its Kink Aware Professionals referral list and the DSM Revision Project. A member of KAP recently wrote: "Thank you for operating this fantastic resource. All of my current clients have found me through the KAP database, which is helping me cultivate exactly the kind of practice I'd hoped for."

Also available on the NCSF website are the results of Second National Survey of Violence & Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities which found significant discrimination and persecution against BDSM practitioners. With over three thousand respondents, 37.5% indicated that they had either been discriminated against or experienced some form of harassment or violence. Over 500 comments were written by the respondents which have been gathered into "In Their Own Words" which documents the trauma experienced by those who have been persecuted.

Published in Resources For Public

In 2008, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of over 40 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression. NCSF's Incident Response team is directed by Director Leigha Fleming. In total, over 500 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2008. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects.NCSF received 489 distinct inquiries/requests for assistance. 317 required more than one contact/response to resolve, often requiring multiple contacts.

It is difficult to categorize many incident requests as clearly falling into one camp or another. Many overlap in categories. For example, many of our custody/divorce related issues involve at least 2 of our core constituent groups (i.e. SM/leather/fetish and poly for example). In trying to do a statistical breakdown of the requests, we placed it in the category it most clearly matched.  

  • 11% were requests regarding SM/abuse/domestic violence issues
  • 27% were regarding criminal complaint issues
  • 4% were regarding employment discrimination
  • 31.5% were regarding child custody/divorce issues
  • 15.5% were related to SM/leather/fetish group issues
  • 1% were classed as non-employment discrimination
  • 5% were related to swing community issues
  • 2.5% were regarding online obscenity issues
  • 2.5% were classed as “other”  Of the inquires,
  • 85.5% were driven by SM/leather/fetish issues
  • 9% by swing
  • 5% by poly
  • 0.5% by other

 

2008 saw an increased number of requests around criminal and domestic violence or SM/abuse related issues. NCSF worked with more than 27 attorneys representing defendants in criminal cases. In  addition, we worked with more than 11 district attorneys and prosecutors related to SM issues.  The vast majority of these criminal cases revolved around domestic abuse or consensual sex/play issues. There is a clear need for education within our own communities about the role and limits of consent and for education to police authorities about the differences between SM and abuse. Employment related discrimination is increasing as well. The implementation of KAP under NCSF’s administration resulted in fewer requests for referrals because we were able to refer the request to our site. As we improve the KAP administration, and resource, the number of requests for referrals that need to be handled by a person will drop since we’ll be able to refer people to the KAP database. The new administration tools for KAP in our website overhaul will also make the use of this tool much more efficient for both user and professional.   

We continue to receive a number of requests for assistance from groups, businesses, and other support organizations who want information about how to operate legally, do law enforcement outreach, file for non-profit status, deal with the media or the press, do hotel/event outreach, or do research around zoning or other legal issues.We also continue to receive requests for assistance involving parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent. 2009 incident response statistics are currently being compiled.

As of the end of May 2009, more than 114 distinct requests for assistance have been processed.NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please call NCSF for assistance. You can submit a request for assistance online or find a Kink Aware Professional (KAP) on our website as well at www.ncsfreedom.org. Emergency contact information is available by calling our office at 410-539-4824, 24 hours per day.Please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!  

NCSF Supports Your Rights

In 2005, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of over 40 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.
 
NCSF's Incident Response team is directed by Director Leigha Fleming. In total, over 700 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2005. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects.
 
NCSF received 726 distinct inquiries/requests for assistance. 327 required more than one contact/response to resolve, often requiring multiple contacts.
  • 31% were requests for referrals (criminal, divorce, custody, zoning, etc…)
  • 18% were requests for NCSF support regarding group/club/business formations
  • 15% were custody/divorce related
  • 9% were media driven/press related issues
  • 9% were employment discrimination
  • 7% were regarding harassment/domestic violence assistance
  • 7% were other/misc.
  • 4% were criminal in nature
Of the inquires NCSF received:
  • 58% were driven by SM/leather/fetish issues
  • 22% by poly
  • 17% by swing
  • 3% by other

It is difficult to categorize many incident requests as clearly falling into one camp or another. Many overlap in categories. For example, many of our custody/divorce related issues involve at least 2 of our core constituent groups (i.e. SM/leather/fetish and poly for example). In trying to do a statistical breakdown of the requests, we placed it in the category it most clearly matched.

2005 saw an increased number of requests around criminal and employment issues. NCSF worked with more than 2 dozen attorneys representing defendants in criminal cases. The vast majority of these criminal cases revolved around domestic abuse or consensual sex/play issues. There is a clear need for education within our own communities about the role and limits of consent and for education to police authorities about the differences between SM and abuse.

Employment related discrimination is increasing as well.

The largest category of requests were for referrals. NCSF's addition of the KAP resource should in time lower the number of requests for referrals that need to be handled by a person since we’ll be able to refer people to the KAP database. It will be extremely helpful to us to be able to set up some kind of system or way to track the where/why/who of the users of the KAP database.

The next largest group of requests for assistance came from groups, businesses, and other support organizations who wanted information about how to operate legally, do law enforcement outreach, file for non-profit status, deal with the media or the press, do hotel/event outreach, or do research around zoning or other legal issues.
 
The next group of requests for assistance involved parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent.
 
2006 incident response statistics are currently being compiled. As of August 2006, more than 465 distinct requests for assistance have been processed.
 
NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please call NCSF for assistance. You can visit our website on www.ncsfreedom.org or call our office at 410-539-4824. If you have a media-related incident, you can call 917-848-6544. To find a lawyer, psychotherapist, or doctor who is kink friendly, go to: www.ncsfreedom.org/kap
 
Please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!

NCSF Supports Your Rights!

In 2003, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) once again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of 38 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.

Leigha Fleming directs NCSF's Incident Response team. In total during 2003, NCSF responded to more than 500 cases, with more than 1,300 contacts between NCSF and individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses that requested assistance. Some incidents required only one or two phone calls, but many evolved into much larger projects such as the attacks by religious political groups against SM conferences.

In 42% of the incidents, NCSF assisted individuals. The largest category of incidents involved parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent.

We also helped families dealing with child protective services because of their alternative lifestyle interests.

NCSF saw a sharp rise in the number of requests for help from individuals experiencing employment discrimination because of their involvement in alternative lifestyles in 2003. Individuals also consulted with NCSF on a variety of other issues, including: the legality of obscene materials, guidelines for posting sexually frank information on websites, the law regarding private parties, criminal cases, dealing with law enforcement and dealing with personal media exposure.

In 2003, NCSF also opposed zoning and other local regulatory measures against those who practice some form of alternative sexual expression. NCSF assisted the swing communities in Illinois and North Carolina by working with them to fight back against punitive zoning restrictions. In addition, we extended our outreach to the polyamory community in 2003 by working with individuals impacted by discrimination against their relationship style.

Conventions

Opposition to SM events based on religious concerns continued in 2003. The host hotel for My Vicious Valentine (February 14-16) received calls from Concerned Women for America at the end of January. The CWA attack against My Vicious Valentine fizzled out, in large part due to the extensive education about SM events that NCSF did for local authorities in 2002. Only one reporter called NCSF from the hotline number posted on MVV's website.

The Tribal Fire conference (April 4-6) in Oklahoma was again targeted by religious groups who took out ads in the local papers denouncing SM practices and threatening to picket the event. Tribal Fire's organizers met with the police detective and the hotel to ensure the event would go on as planned. However four Mennonites held a prayer vigil in the hotel lobby for 72 hours. NCSF staff members attended Tribal Fire and spoke out about the importance of standing up for our rights.

When Concerned Women for America attacked International Mr. Leather (May 30-June 1) they quoted the Illinois State Health Department as saying there is a higher rate of STDs in homosexual men. CWA proclaimed that IML was therefore a danger to employees and guests at the host hotel. Susan Wright contacted the Illinois State Health Department, and the AIDS/Infectious Diseases department declared they would speak to any media outlet to debunk the CWA's absurd claims. IML was held as planned.

The Black Rose conference (November 11-14) was forced to move from Ocean City, Maryland, back to their former host hotel in New Carrollton, Maryland when two churches in Ocean City led a grass-roots movement to prevent the event from taking place in their rural resort town. There was a great deal of initial confusion regarding Black Rose's media response, and as a result, there were many misrepresentations and prejudicial and inaccurate descriptions included in the articles in the Maryland Coast Dispatch and the Daily Times of Salisbury which inflamed the situation. NCSF attempted to mediate the situation by providing accurate and unbiased information on SM/leather/fetish to the local media.

Fetish in the Fall (November 20-23) scheduled to take place in Kenner, Louisiana (part of metropolitan New Orleans) was moved after it was attacked by the Kenner police chief. Police Chief Nick Congemi urged hotel managers to decline any request to hold the event in any Kenner hotel. In his letter and press release to the media, Chief Congemi stated that "allowing the event to take place would seriously jeopardize the family atmosphere for which Kenner is noted." Congemi had already announced his run for mayor of Kenner (election held in March, 2004). For many years prior to this, Congemi had allowed his police officers to work as off-duty security for the adult swing conference in Kenner, N'awlins in November, produced by the same company that produced Fetish in the Fall. NCSF was called in immediately and was able to generate positive media coverage of this incident.

Clubs

NCSF also opposed zoning and other local regulatory measures against those who practice some form of alternative sexual expression. NCSF assisted the swing communities in North Carolina and Illinois by holding open-forum discussions about how to affect zoning regulations and current litigation against lifestyle clubs. NCSF also worked with the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance (GLAA) to lobby against the Washington DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control regulation 905, which has been used to prohibit SM play in local establishments with liquor licenses even when liquor isn't being sold or consumed. In response to an Action Alert created and distributed in conjunction with D.C. Sexual Minority Advocates (DCSMA), NCSF received over 130 cc'ed letters from community members stating they were concerned that this regulation will prevent SM community spaces from existing in Washington D.C.

The Labyrinth in Denver, a community SM space, was shut down by a restraining order because of zoning violations. The undercover investigation took many months. The Denver community organized an ad hoc group called COSMA (Colorado SM Advocates) to fight for their right to have an SM club. NCSF conducted multiple interviews with the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Lakewood Sentinel, Channel 7, ABC affiliate, and KHOW 630 AM radio during this incident.

Media Incidents

NCSF gave 67 media interviews in 2003, with Susan Wright, Spokesperson, giving 49 interviews and Sue Gould, Swing Spokesperson, giving 18 interviews. Clubs and businesses regularly contact NCSF to receive media training for incidents or prior to holding an event.

NCSF began working with John Cloud, a reporter with Time Magazine in November 2003 on an article about the SM community, its history and practices. NCSF assisted in locating appropriate people in the SM community to be interviewed. Several SM conferences considered allowing the reporter into their event, but concerns over privacy prevented that. The positive article was published in January 2004.

In Indianapolis, a female professional dominant gave an interview with the local newspaper and Channel 6 News in May. This caused serious problems for her because she was located near a church-school and ran a home-based business (a D/s and role-play salon) with no business license or permits. The media and police received an anonymous tip about her illegal business operation. NCSF encouraged her to seek proper zoning, educated her about dealing with the media, and responded to media inquiries for her.

In March, NCSF was contacted by concerned community members about the Black Party's promo image, which showed a young man with a black eye and split lip. NCSF protested to the producers of the Black Party in NYC that this image doesn't portray SM but rather shows abuse. The NYC Anti-Violence Project, the National Coalition against Violence and other groups joined in this effort, writing to the producers protesting this image.

In one media incident, a nonprofit club in Muncie, Indiana, was threatened with closure along with a nearby strip bar until the media was educated about safe, sane and consensual SM. NCSF also gave media assistance to a swing club in Connecticut which was closed because of zoning issues.

Another media incident involved Nerve.com when they published a series of articles in June entitled "Letters from Leather Camp." The Nerve reporter infiltrated a private event, Leather Retreat. Leather Retreat didn't have a clause in their release form preventing reporters from writing for a commercial media outlet. Susan Wright negotiated with Michael Martin, Editor-in-Chief at Nerve.com, and sent out Nerve's statement and apology in NCSF's Media Update covering the articles. The comments section of Nerve.com was reinstated so SM community members could respond to the articles, and the articles themselves were purged of their most reprehensible comments.

Discrimination

Job discrimination continues to be a problem for individuals. NCSF helped more than a twenty people draft and file formal complaints with their employers regarding employment discrimination claims. One West Virginia woman lost her job because she belonged to a leather club. One Texas woman was sexually harassed by her supervisor when he found her website on the internet. She was initially terminated from her job when she complained about the harassment. NCSF worked with her and her husband to draft a formal grievance and helped her find a sympathetic attorney. She was rehired.

A number of discrimination complaints continue to be made regarding Paypal and E-bay regarding their policies for dealing with adult oriented vendors. Paypal and E-bay are deleting accounts that sell adult oriented merchandise. NCSF has contacted the parent company, E- bay, regarding their discriminatory practices. These companies continue their "no-adult content" policy in large part out of fears of prosecution for obscenity.

Criminal Cases

NCSF was contacted by individuals, attorneys and prosecutors on a variety of criminal cases, including: several cases of false rape, three different cases involving death of a participant, and two murder investigations. NCSF also made referrals to resources and the appropriate authorities in several domestic violence incidents. In three cases, NCSF was able to help the victim obtain protective orders and find appropriate counseling.

NCSF: On the Front Lines

NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please call NCSF for assistance. If you are contacted by the media, please call NCSF immediately so we can assist in educating the reporter about SM, swing or polyamory.

And please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are a volunteer organization committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!

Overview: NCSF Supports Your Rights!

In 2002, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) once again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of 29 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.

NCSF's Incident Response team is directed by Leigha Fleming, who instituted new methods for tabulating responses in 2002. In total, nearly 600 contacts were made between NCSF and individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses who requested assistance. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but many evolved into much larger projects such as the series of attacks by religious political extremists against SM conferences in the midwest.

In 41% of the incidents, NCSF assisted individuals. The largest category of incidents involved parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent. Individuals also consulted with NCSF on a variety of other issues, including: the legality of obscene materials, guidelines for posting sexually frank information on websites, the law regarding private parties, and dealing with personal media exposure.

In 2002, NCSF also opposed zoning and other local regulatory measures against those who practice some form of alternative sexual expression. NCSF assisted the swing communities in Florida and Phoenix by holding open-forum discussions about how to affect zoning regulations and current litigation against lifestyle clubs. NCSF also worked with the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance (GLAA) to lobby against the Washington DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control regulation 905, which has been used to prohibit SM play in local establishments with liquor licenses even when liquor isn't being sold or consumed.

Conventions

From February to May 2002, five SM conventions were targeted by Concerned Women for America, American Family Association, and the American Decency Association. NCSF worked with each event to counter sensationalized attacks in the media as well as resisting action by local authorities who attempted to shut down these SM conferences. The attacks took place in the midwest: My Vicious Valentine and International Mr. Leather in Chicago, Bound by Desire in Michigan, Tribal Fire in Oklahoma, and Beat Me in St. Louis in Missouri.

In April, Missouri State Senator John Loudon introduced a resolution to prohibit SM conferences from being held in that state. NCSF educated the Missouri State Attorney General about the educational benefits of SM conferences, and the state health department sent an observer who confirmed that all activities were safe, sane and consensual. Beat Me in St. Louis was held exactly as planned.

With two of these SM conferences, the host hotels canceled their contracts. However both conferences were able to re-locate to new host hotels. Cendant Corporation, the world's largest hotel franchiser with more than 6,400 hotels, bowed to pressure from religious political extremist groups and threatened its franchisees with reprisal if they booked "controversial" guests or groups that "national interest groups find offensive." NCSF conducted a successful media and write-in campaign that convinced Cendant Corporation to clarify its position, honoring the right of hotel franchisees to host the events of their choice.

Clubs

In 2002, there were several police raids against alternative sexual expression clubs, including a raid that resulted in the closure of Behind the Scenes, an SM club in Philadelphia, PA. In July, a raid against Club Zinc, a swing club in Atlanta, GA, resulted in the arrest of patrons who consulted with NCSF. Another lifestyle club in Connecticut was raided and closed in June because they were improperly located in a residential neighborhood. In Phoenix, AZ, NCSF worked with several swing clubs that continue to be threatened with closure because of overly-restrictive zoning laws.

Media Incidents

Spokesperson Susan Wright gave 81 interviews with the media in 2002 including print, radio and television interviews on national shows such as The O'Reilly Factor. Incidents such as the CWA attacks against SM conferences required extensive media contacts. In addition, the trial and conviction of serial killer John Robinson in Kansas City necessitated media work because Robinson met several of his victims in SM chat rooms. The witness who reported Robinson's theft of her toys to the police, resulting in Robinson's arrest, consulted with NCSF prior to her appearance in the trial.

The SM community rallied when Jack McGeorge's participation as a UN Weapons Inspector in Iraq was questioned by the Washington Post in a series of SM-negative articles. It was suggested that McGeorge should be dismissed from the UN weapons team because, among other things, McGeorge is a former Chairman of NCSF. Community members sent dozens of "Letters to the Editor" to the Washington Post, NY Daily News, CNN, and Fox News protesting the attacks against McGeorge, who received support from Hans Blix and remained on duty as a Weapons Inspector.

Clubs regularly contact NCSF to receive media training for incidents or events. In one media incident, a nonprofit club in Muncie, Indiana, was threatened with closure along with a nearby strip bar until the media was educated about safe, sane and consensual SM. NCSF also gave media assistance to a swing club in Connecticut which was closed because of zoning issues.

Discrimination

Job discrimination continues to be a problem for individuals. NCSF helped more than a dozen people draft and file formal complaints with their employers regarding employment discrimination claims. One Tennessee man lost his job because he belonged to a leather club. NCSF referred a Texas man to the EEOC because of racial discrimination. A California woman contacted NCSF when a job offer was withdrawn when her personal website was discovered. Another woman was dismissed from a private Catholic university because of her private sexual expression.

Discrimination complaints were also made about two Internet companies in 2002. In July, E-bay pulled all of its SM-related material for sale, while Match.com deleted a therapist's ad because it mentioned their poly therapy practice.

Criminal Cases

NCSF was contacted by individuals, attorneys and prosecutors on a variety of criminal cases, including: an exhibitionist arrested for public exposure, prostitution and obscenity charges against a pro-domme, and one individual cited for carrying SM toys in their car. NCSF also made referrals to resources and the appropriate authorities in several domestic violence incidents. In one case, a protective order was obtained.

In September, NCSF assisted in a behavioral forensic investigation concerning the alleged kidnapping of a Vancouver, Washington, man who was involved in master/slave relationship. NCSF worked with both prosecution and defense. The result was the dismissal of the unfounded charges of kidnapping and assault.

NCSF On the Front Lines

NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please call NCSF for assistance. You can visit our website on www.ncsfreedom.org or call our office at 410-539-4824.

And please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are a grassroots, volunteer organization committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!

A detailed look at effective techniques to get your points across regarding the polyamory community.

Usually there is no graceful way to segue into a sound bite. That's fine, reporters are used to nonsensical conversations when they give interviews. Whatever the question, respond with one of your sound bites. Repeat these sound bites over and over. Out of a 1/2 long interview, you will be on the air for about 10 seconds or quoted once or twice in a newspaper. So don't ad lib. Keep repeating these sound bites below, as well as any sound bites you and your organization agree to provide to the media about your event or local group.

You don't have to get all these in, sometimes it's best to pick a few and keep repeating them in different ways.

 

General Sound Bites on Polyamory

 

Polyamory is the desire for and conduct of responsible, non-monogamous, consensual, romantic relationships with more than one partner. Polyamory is different from cheating because of the honest communication between partners and lovers about their relationships.

 

Polys say theirs is a relationship orientation and an aspect of personal identity just as monogamy is a relationship orientation and an aspect of personal identity for others, whether they are involved with anyone at a particular time or not.

 

Poly relationships take many forms. They may be open relationships where a two primary partners agree to have relationships outside their committed primary relationship, or they may be group relationships consisting of three or more people. Some group relationships are cohabitating relationships, others are not.

 

Poly relationships are formed between adults of all ages, races, genders and sexual orientations.

 

Polys focus on love, commitment and family just as monogamous people do.

 

Millions of Americans are looking for ways to spice up their sexual and emotional lives and get more of their needs met than is possible for them through traditional monogamy. The polyamorous lovestyle can be a consensual, safe, and gratifying way to strengthen healthy, caring, committed relationships and realize a greater abundance of love and companionship for all concerned.

 

Poly families often have more assets to support their families. More adults in the family means more income, less housing cost, and more help with child care and household chores. If a partner is ill or elderly, there are more adults available to help care for them.

 

Poly people are your friends, neighbors and co-workers--doctors, lawyers, bus drivers, and teachers--and there is no scientific evidence that polyamory is unhealthy for relationships or affects parenting skills. Polys are committed to their partners and consider the partners of their partners to be extended family.

 

Many Americans, even those who are married, structure their sex lives differently today than 50 years ago. Most adults are not married, and many families don't include two married heterosexual parents anymore.

 

The fact is that millions of Americans practice polyamory, and it is the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom's mission to make sure that they can do so without fear of harassment, violence, or discrimination.

 

Latest research on Polyamory

Blumstein and Schwartz (1983, cited in Rubin & Adams, 1986) noted that of 3,574 married couples in their sample, 15-28% had "an understanding that allows nonmonogamy under some circumstances. The percentages are higher among cohabitating couples (28%), lesbian couples (29%) and gay male couples (65%)" (p. 312).

 

In 1976, Knapp administered a battery of standardized psychological assessment measures to a sample of polyamorous couples (Peabody, 1982). No significant differences were found between the couples in her sample and the general population norms. "That is, neither group was particularly neurotic, immature, promiscuous, maladjusted, pathological, or sexually inadequate." (p. 429).

 

Rubin & Adams (1986) found that after several years, there was no significant difference in marital stability (i.e. breaking up vs. staying together) between those couples who had been polyamorous versus those whose marriages had been exclusive. Similar proportions of each group reported happiness versus unhappiness, compared to the earlier sample. Additionally, "the reasons given for breakup were almost never related to extramarital sex" (p. 318).

 

In many cultures, polyamory is the norm, and many benefits of this lifestyle have been reported. For instance, in Nigeria it is said that "the sharing of responsibilities among members may greatly dilute the burden, financial or otherwise, of care for members with problems" (Makanjuola, 1987, p. 366). Venezuelan Yanomamo women who choose a poly lifestyle may not need to work as long on household and child-care tasks as their monogamous sisters do, due to co-operation between co-wives (Hames, 1996).

 

Is polyamory immoral?

Polyamory is the complete opposite of irresponsible promiscuity. Polyamory involves couples or groups consensually sharing playful loving life experiences--sexual and otherwise.

 

Research shows that most Americans support privacy rights for consenting adults to choose and practice safe, sane and consensual sexual loving relationships, regardless of marital status.

 

Of course many people prefer monogamy and aren't interested in developing intimate relationships with more than one person. Poly people aren't trying to convert anyone. We are adults living our lives how we choose, and no one has the right to dictate our personal choices.

 

What is the affect on Children?

If parents are happy in their intimate relationships, it helps the family. Happy families are good for children.

 

Some poly families are structured so that one parent can be home to care for the children while two or more other adults work outside the home and earn an income, thus providing a better standard of living for all concerned.

 

More adult caretakers means more people available for child care, help with homework, and rides to soccer practice.

Children thrive on love. The more adults they have to love them who are part of the family, the happier and more well-adjusted they are. 

 

There is no evidence that growing up in a poly family is detrimental to the physical, psychological or moral well being of children.

 

Recently a legal case was heard in which a young child was removed from a polyamorous household after her grandparents petitioned for custody, on the grounds that the home environment was immoral according to the Bible. No evidence of child abuse or neglect was found, and mental health professionals found that the child was well-adjusted; but the child's family still had to fight a court battle in order to have her returned; and even then, the child was only returned on the grounds that one of the three parents move out (Cloud, 1999).

 

Benefits of Polyamory

People involved in polyamory in general, are better educated about safe sex and sexual responsibility. Often polyamorous social events offer educational programs about consent, communication, as well as safe sex education.

 

Polyamorists consider the practice of safer sex to be essential to the practice of responsible non-monogamy.

 

People involved in polyamory tend to get a lot of experience with communicating their desires, feelings, and boundaries. It's well-established that good communication builds healthy relationships.

 

Polyamory can meet more of one's emotional, intellectual, and sexual needs through accepting that one person cannot provide everything.

 

Positive elements to polyamory: increased personal freedom; greater depth to social relationships; the potential for sexual exploration in a non-judgmental setting; a strengthening of spousal bonds; a sense of being desired; a feeling of belongingness; added companionship; a greater abundance of love; increased self-awareness; intellectual variety; and the chance for new aspects of personality to emerge through relating to more people.

 

Challenges of Polyamory

People who decide to open their relationship to include others must be secure in the strength of their partnership bond, and comfortable in developing relationships with new people.

 

Jealousy is a natural emotion and is a signal that additional communication and negotiation must occur in order to keep the relationship healthy.

 

Polyamorous unions are not typically recognized by church or state, and spousal health benefits are not available for one's non-married partner(s). Many of the discriminations that the gay community faces are concerns for the polyamorous community as well.

 

Poly people often remain "closeted" about their relationships because of the social stigma involved, as well as fear of threats to job security and child custody. Poly people fear discrimination and persecution, so having to keep such a secret can cause stress in their lives.

 

Attacks on Polyamory

You really have to wonder what motivates people who would go to such extraordinary lengths to sensationalize someone else's private life. It's obvious that sex makes some people uncomfortable, and we think that these people should deal with their own issues instead of interfering in our lives.

 

This is not about sex, this is about a threat to our most basic constitutional rights - freedom of assembly and the right to privacy. The Supreme Court recently abolished Sodomy Laws because they violate Americans' fundamental right to privacy.

 

References:

 

What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory
by Geri D. Weitzman
http://www.polyamory.org/~joe/polypaper.htm#Demographic

 

Working With Polyamorous Clients In The Clinical Setting
by Joy Davidson, Ph.D.
Journal of Human Sexuality
http://www.ejhs.org/volume5/polyoutline.html

 

 
Published in Activist Resources
SM Related Legal Research Resources

SM Related Legal Research Resources

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    Tags: Legal Legal Education
Jovanovic Case (Consent)

Jovanovic Case (Consent)

  • Affidavit of Susan Wright in Response to Affirmation in opposition to motion to file

    Affidavit of Susan Wright in Response to Affirmation in Opposition to Motion to File a Memorandum of Law Amicus Curiae   N.Y. Co. Ind. No 10938/96 Cal. No. 98-10474   1. I, Susan Wright, am the Executive Director of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) .   2. I write this affidavit in response to the DA's Brief in Opposition to the NCSF request to file an Amicus Curia…






    Tags: Legal Case Curiae
  • Affirmation of Michael Thomas Fois in response to opposition to motion to file

    SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK APPELLATE DIVISION: FIRST DEPARTMENT -----------------------------------------------------------------------X THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Indictment No. Plaintiff-Respondent, 10938/96 -against-   OLIVER JOVANOVIC, Defendant-Appellant. -----------------------------------------------------------------------X   AFFIRMATION OF MICHAEL THOMAS FOIS IN RESPONSE TO OPPOSITION OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY TO MOTION TO FILE A MEMORANDUM OF LAW AMICUS CURIA Michael Thomas Fois, an attorney admitted to practice in front of this Court, affirms and…






    Tags: Legal Case
  • Affirmation in opposition to motion to file

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  • Memorandum of Law of Amicus Curiae, NCSF

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    Tags: Legal Case
  • Affirmation of Michael Thomas Fois

    AFFIRMATION OF MICHAEL THOMAS FOIS   SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK APPELLATE DIVISION: FIRST DEPARTMENT ----------------------------------------------------------------------- x THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Indictment No. Plaintiff-Respondent, 10938/96   -against-   OLIVER JOVANOVIC, Defendant-Appellant. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- x       AFFIRMATION OF MICHAEL THOMAS FOIS     Michael Thomas Fois, an attorney admitted to practice in front of this Court, affirms and states under penalty of perjury,…






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  • Notice of motion requesting leave to file memorandum of Law as Amicus Curiae

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    Tags: Legal Case
Barbara Nitke Case (CDA)

Barbara Nitke Case (CDA)

  • CDA Expert Testimony in the Barbara Nitke Case

    UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK ------------------------------------------------------------------X BARBARA NITKE, THE NATIONAL COALITION FOR SEXUAL FREEDOM, and THE NATIONAL COALITION FOR SEXUAL FREEDOM FOUNDATION, Plaintiffs, -against- JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; Defendants. 01 Civ. 11476 (RMB) PLAINTIFFS' RESPONSES AND OBJECTIONS TO DEFENDANTS' FIRST SET OF INTERROGATORIES AND REQUEST FOR DOCUMENTS -------------------------------------------------------------------X   Plaintiffs Barbara Nitke ("Nitke") and…






    Tags: CDA Nitke
  • Govt Motion to Affirm Nitke and NCSF Reply (PDF)

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  • Justices Reject Photographer's Appeal

    The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal yesterday from a New York photographer who said that a federal decency law violated her First Amendment rights to post explicit pictures of sadomasochism and bondage on the Web, The Associated Press reported. The justices affirmed a decision by a special three-judge federal panel upholding the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which made it a crime to post obscene materials on the…






    Tags: Supreme Court Sadomasochism Decency Act
  • Supreme Court Affirms Lower Court's Ruling in Nitke Appeal Without Hearing Oral Arguments

    WASHINGTON, DC - The Supreme Court today denied an appeal by photographer Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) in the case of Nitke v. Gonzalez. The appeal challenged the constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act on the grounds that the obscenity provision of the CDA is overbroad. Last year, a three-judge panel in New York's Southern District had dismissed Nitke's lawsuit, ruling that there was "insufficient…






    Tags: Nightclub Supreme Court
  • Supreme Court Decision in the Communications Decency Act (CDA)

      March 20, 2006 - Washington D.C. Today the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Federal District Court's decision in Barbara Nitke and NCSF v. Alberto Gonzales, the challenge to the Communications Decency Act, #01 CIV 11476 (RMB). The Supreme Court has affirmed the lower court's decision without hearing oral arguments, sending a clear signal that the court will not protect free speech rights when it comes to sexually explicit materials.…






    Tags: CDA Legal Supreme Court Nitke
  • Justices Pass on Internet Obscenity Case

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    Tags: Legal Supreme Court
  • NCSF and Nitke vs. Gonzales Supreme Court Update

    March 3, 2006 - In documents filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Justice Department did not contest NCSF's assertion that NCSF's Communications Decency Act challenge is properly before the Supreme Court on direct appeal. That is a big step forward because that means both sides agree that the Supreme Court should rule on the merits of NCSF and Barbara Nitke's case, and not on any procedural grounds. The…






    Tags: CDA Nitke
  • Communications Decency Act (CDA) Lawsuit

    July 26, 2005 - New York, NY - A three judge panel has made a decision in the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and acclaimed photographer Barbara Nitke's challenge against the Communications Decency Act (CDA) which criminalizes free speech on the Internet. According to the court, the plaintiffs presented "insufficient evidence" to support findings that the variation in community standards is substantial enough that protected speech is inhibited by the…






    Tags: CDA Nitke
  • Expert Witness Reports Submitted in Nitke v. Ashcroft

    New York, December 18, 2003 - The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom has submitted expert witness reports for their landmark Communications Decency Act lawsuit, Nitke v. Ashcroft (Case No. 01 Civ. 11476). John Wirenius, attorney for plaintiffs NCSF and photographer Barbara Nitke, provided 31 expert witness reports and witnesses who will testify before the three-judge panel for the Southern District of New York.   The expert witness reports support the…






    Tags: Nitke
Nea vs. Findlay Case

Nea vs. Findlay Case

  • Govt Motion to Affirm Nitke and NCSF Reply (PDF)

    Govt Motion to Affirm Nitke 05-526 (pdf) (posted 3/2/06) NCSF Reply to Govt Motion to Affirm (doc) (posted 3/2/06)






    Tags: Civil_Rights CDA
  • Case summary of Nea vs. Findlay

      Argued: March 31, 1998 Decided: June 25, 1998 Issue: Freedom of Speech -- Whether a law requiring the National Endowment for the Arts to consider "general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public" before awarding grants to artistic projects is impermissibly viewpoint-based and unconstitutionally vague. Vote: 8-1; No, the law does not violate the First Amendment. Facts: In 1990, Congress amended…






    Tags: Legal
CDA Media Reports

CDA Media Reports

Media reports covering the Communications Decency Act lawsuit launched by co-plaintiffs NCSF and Barbara Nitke.

  • NEWSBYTES - December 19, 2001

    Net Obscenity Provisions Revocation Sought NEWSBYTES By David McGuire http://www.NEWSBYTES.com December 19, 2001, Washington, DC -- A small civil liberties group has asked a federal judge in New York to revoke what remains of an Internet pornography law that was gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. In a complaint filed in a New York City Federal Court [http://www.USCourts.gov ] last week, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom [https://ncsfreedom.org…






    Tags: Media News
  • San Francisco Bay Guardian - January 14, 2002

    Techsploitation By Annalee Newitz San Francisco Bay Guardian, January 14, 2002   HERE'S YET ANOTHER wacky fact you probably didn't know about the Communications Decency Act ole Bill Clinton signed into law way back in 1996: the good citizens of some small town in Arizona or southern California might have the power to send you to jail if they think the contents of your Web site are "obscene." The CDA…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • San Francisco Frontiers - January 23, 2002

    Communications Decency Act A Lingering Coup de Grace? By Tim Kingston   January 23, 2002   You may dimly recall the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which unsuccessfully attempted to define and proscribe "indecency" on the Internet. That law's legal core--its indecency provision--was immediately challenged and rapidly struck down as unconstitutional by free- and electronic-speech advocates. But, what many may not know is that another portion of the law, prohibiting…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Ynot News - January 2, 2002

    Can David Beat Goliath in the Battle of Obscenity? Part 2   By Judd Handler   Ynot News, January 2, 2002   Last week's editorial featured an interview with John Wirenius, lead counsel for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and Barbara Nitke, an adult content photographer. Wirenius, on behalf of the NCSF and Nitke, filed a lawsuit on December 11 against Attorney General John Ashcroft seeking to overturn Internet…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Ynot News - December 20, 2001

    Can David Beat Goliath in the Battle of Obscenity? By Judd Handler   Ynot News, December 20, 2001   One would think it would take the giants of the industry to force the government to rethink existing, not-applicable-to-the-Internet obscenity laws. On the contrary, the little players may be the ones who are successful in getting the federal government and the Supreme Court to throw out irrelevant local community standards when…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Wired - December 12, 2001

    New Suit Targets Obscenity Law By Julia Scheeres Wired, December 12, 2001    A national organization that promotes sexual tolerance and an artist who photographs pictures of couples engaged in sadomasochism filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn Internet obscenity laws. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and photographer Barbara Nitke argue that the obscenity provision of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is so broad that it violates free speech.…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Spectator Magazine - January 11, 2002

    STANDING UP TO BE COUNTED: BARBARA NITKE CHALLENGES JOHN ASHCROFT ON S/M AND INTERNET OBSCENITY By David Steinberg Spectator Magazine, January 11, 2002 "No matter how we're wired to express love, freedom is having the courage to be who we are." - Photographer/plaintiff Barbara Nitke On December 11, Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom brought suit in New York City's Federal District Court, seeking to have the…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Press - August 28, 2002

    What's Obscene in Podunk By John Strausbaugh New York Press, August 28, 2002   Barbara Nitke is a well-known and much-seen photographer in her field. She's president of the New York Camera Club and teaches a course in darkroom technique at SVA. A nice, neat, sweet individual, she's the very very last person in New York City you'd suspect of being a pornographer. Which she's not, not exactly. She's more…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Newsday - July 25 2005

    New York judges refuse to say Internet obscenity law is unconstitutional By LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press Writer, July 25, 2005, 7:58 PM EDT  NEW YORK -- A special three-judge federal panel on Monday refused to find unconstitutional a law making it a crime to send obscenity over the Internet to children. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 had been challenged by Barbara Nitke, a photographer who specializes in pictures of…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Daily News - July 15, 2002

    Fotog vs. Feds in Obscenity Law: Files suit to keep photos on Web by Veronica Vera New York Daily News, July 15, 2002 Photographer Barbara Nitke is used to being behind the lens, but if legal matters heat up, she may soon find the government focusing on her. Nitke is ready to step into the foreground as the chief plantiff in Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Nerve - December 11, 2001

    Nerve December 11, 2001 Photographer Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) filed a lawsuit today, claiming the Internet censorship provision of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) violates the First Amendment right to free speech. The provision stipulates that "local community standards" will judge whether or not something is indecent. Yet attorney John Wirenius argues that "By allowing the most restrictive jurisdiction to define what speech can…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • CNN - December 20, 2001

    Lawsuit targets last scraps of Net-obscenity law By Sam Costello (IDG News) CNN, December 20, 2001 The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and artist Barbara Nitke have filed a lawsuit challenging the remaining provisions of the Communications Decency Act, much of which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. The act, or CDA, was passed in 1996 and was the first U.S. law designed to allow…






    Tags: CDA Media
  • Adult Video News - February, 2002

    NCSF Tackles "Community Standards" For The Web By Mark Kernes Adult Video News, February Issue Washington, DC The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom may not be a household name, even in the adult entertainment industry, but if their recently-filed lawsuit succeeds, they may go down in history as the first group to secure Americans' core constitutional speech rights.  NCSF is based in the nation's capital [~] in fact, only a…






    Tags: Media CDA News
  • ABC News - July 29, 2002

    Love or Obscenity? S/M Photographer Challenges Internet Decency Standards By Dean Schabner ABCnews.com, July 29, 2002 When Barbara Nitke wanted to put her photographs of loving couples on the Internet, she thought she should check into the laws first. That's because Nitke's recent photographs have been focused on how some couples express their love through sado-masochism. What Nitke found after reading up on Internet law and talking to lawyers was…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Govt Motion to Affirm Nitke and NCSF Reply (PDF)

    Govt Motion to Affirm Nitke 05-526 (pdf) (posted 3/2/06) NCSF Reply to Govt Motion to Affirm (doc) (posted 3/2/06)






    Tags: Civil_Rights CDA

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