Sunday, 17 February 2008

NCSF Action Alert

from the NCSF:

Action Alert - Religious political extremists attack The Task Force for "Leather Leadership Award"

February 13, 2008 - The American Family News Network posted an inflammatory article
condemning the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force for honoring Guy Baldwin with
their Leather Leadership Award at the 20th National Conference on LGBT Equality:
Creating Change, on February 6-10, 2008 (

According to the February 7th article:

Peter LaBarbera, executive director of Americans for Truth commented that he is
not sure if he is more surprised by one of the sponsors of the event or by one of
the activists who will be honored. "It's incredible to me," he continues. "But the
Democratic Party is endorsing an event where they're actually presenting an award
for sadomasochism."

A sponsorship acknowledgement notes that the Democratic National Committee gave
at least $2,500 to help pay for the event. The recipient of the "Leather Leadership
Award" is Guy Baldwin, a psychotherapist who has successfully lobbied against
treating sadomasochism as a mental health problem.

To see the entire article, go to:

In point of fact, the Democratic National Committee did not sponsor Creating Change
or the Leather Leadership Award.

The Task Force does have a strong history of supporting the BDSM-leather-fetish
communities. In previous years, this included awarding their Leather Leadership
Award to Dave Rhodes of The Leather Journal and Tony DeBlase, creator of the Leather
Pride Flag, as well as providing tracks and roundtables for activists dedicated to
leather community issues.

"Those who persecute our communities know that The Task Force and the BDSM-leather-
fetish communities have shared agendas in promoting tolerance and non-discrimination
for sexual minorities, including those involved in alternate lifestyles. We grow
stronger the more we stand together," says NCSF Spokesperson Susan Wright.

From Guy Balwin's acceptance speech for the Leather Leadership Award at Creating

"One of the many reasons it is important for The Task Force to be sending these
signals of acknowledgement and legitimacy out to the LGBTIQQ world is that when our
enemies in the struggle for self-determination look in our direction, they can't see
the amazing diversity represented in a room like this one. No, to our enemies, we
all look the same. They make none of the distinctions that we, ourselves, have made.
To our enemies, garbage is garbage, no matter what color we old we we smell, or how we play. And that's just one reason it's important that
we build bridges between our diverse communities and that's why this award to me
today matters to all our communities. But the effort to build these bridges will be
wasted unless they are vigilantly maintained from both sides." b Guy Baldwin

We ask you to send a short note of appreciation to the Task Force:

Roberta Sklar, Communications Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
rsklar@thetaskforce.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Dear Ms. Sklar,

Thank you for your recognition and inclusion of the BDSM-leather-fetish communities
in your annual conference, Creating Change. The Leather Caucus and workshops on
alternative sexuality have been very important to the LGBT members of our
communities, providing a place where we can gather with our peers and discuss
activist issues.

I congratulate you on choosing to give your Leather Leadership Award this year to
Guy Baldwin for his activist efforts on behalf of the leather community. I proudly
support The Task Force and am glad to join together on our common and shared goals
of equality for all Americans.

(your name)


Guy Baldwin is a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist, author and activist on behalf
of "erotically uncommon people." Baldwin may be best known for his monthly essays
which appeared in Drummer Magazine and were collected in his 1993 book, Ties That
Bind. Baldwin is a former titleholder, having served in 1989 as Mister National
Leather Association and also as the 11th International Mr. Leather. In 1987, Baldwin
launched the DSM Project to mobilize mental health professionals worldwide to press
for changes to the official clinical definitions that had long been used to label
leather people, gay and otherwise, as pathological. The DSM Project succeeded with
the publication of new and substantially improved language in 1993 in the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is a national organization 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 is primarily focused on the rights of consenting adults in the SM-
leather-fetish, swing, and polyamory communities, who often face discrimination
because of their sexual expression.

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
822 Guilford Avenue, Box 127
Baltimore, MD 21202-3707
media@ncsfreedom.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Friday, 15 February 2008

Court Overturns Texas Sex Toy Ban

h/t Nezua: Court overturns Texas Sex Toy Ban

FORT WORTH, Texas — A federal appeals court has overturned a Texas statute outlawing sex toy sales, leaving Alabama as the state with the strictest ban on such devices.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Texas law making it illegal to sell or promote obscene devices, punishable by up to two years in jail, violated the Constitution's 14th Amendment on the right to privacy.

Companies that own Dreamer's and Le Rouge Boutique, which sell the devices in its Austin stores, and the retail distributor Adam & Eve, sued in Austin federal court in 2004 over the constitutionality of the law. They appealed after a federal judge dismissed the suit and said the constitution did not protect their right to publicly promote such devices.

In its decision Tuesday, the appeals court cited Lawrence and Garner v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 opinion that struck down bans on consensual sex between gay couples.

"Just as in Lawrence, the state here wants to use its laws to enforce a public moral code by restricting private intimate conduct," the appeals judges wrote. "The case is not about public sex. It is not about controlling commerce in sex. It is about controlling what people do in the privacy of their own homes because the state is morally opposed to a certain type of consensual private intimate conduct. This is an insufficient justification after Lawrence."

Again, not specifically about BDSM, but relevant good news.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

BDSM and the Law, or: And then sometimes things just *suck*...

This is ganked and reposted from an elist I'm on. I wanted to put it up here to show -- not that any of us need to hear it -- that bad shit does happen to BDSM people. While this isn't any kind of institutionalized discrimination against BDSMers or even against "overly" sexual women, this woman's nightmare is happening because she is "that home-wrecking slut." This is happening because we live in a society where people can have attitudes like those of these parents, and those attitudes can be used to ruin someone's life.

That's why sex positivity still matters to me. Not because of glitz or glamor or how many more people it means I can fuck. Because people still can ruin one another based on the kind of sex they have, or with whom, or why. However glamorous and frivolous sex-positive feminism has "become", that fact has not changed.

Until it does, there will be a place for sex-positive feminisms.

Without further ado, the article:
Jay Wiseman: BDSM and the Law
by JayWiseman

Published 2008-01-04

Dateline: November 1
Very early last Sunday morning Master Mike and his slave sandy were driving home from a play party in sandy's car when they got rear-ended on the Golden Gate Bridge at high speed by a drunk driver. It turns out that, while her car was totaled, sandy is mostly OK. She got treated at the ER for some cuts but was released. Mike, however, is now comatose in the ICU with a really bad head injury. Everybody is sick with worry. He's a nice guy and his reputation as a top is excellent.

Dateline: November 4
Mike's parents - who he is bitterly estranged from and hasn't spoken to in years -- hate sandy and are refusing to let her visit him in the ICU. It turns out that Mike was married when he met sandy online. His marriage had been troubled for years because Mike's BDSM yearnings became stronger and stronger, but his totally vanilla wife refused to participate in it with him in any way, and also insisted that Mike remain entirely monogamous. Mike had been suffering in silence for years, but after he met sandy his situation became more than he could bear. Mike and his wife separated. He started seeing sandy and eventually collared her. A nasty and expensive divorce followed. They had no children. Mike and sandy have been living together for more than five years now. However, they didn't marry. Mike said that he'd had enough of marriage for a while, and sandy didn't much care one way or the other. She was completely happy just to live with him in the house in Berkeley that he made a down payment on about three years ago. So now sandy is literally being shut out in the cold by Mike's parents while he languishes in the ICU. They are vehement about not letting "that home-wrecking slut" anywhere near their son.

Dateline: November 9
Although the doctors feel that Mike is extremely unlikely to regain anything like a normal level of consciousness (his brain scans look just awful) his parents practice a very conservative religion and believe that "it's God's will" that he is like that. They insist that he be kept alive at all costs. Mike had once or twice mentioned to sandy that he wouldn't want such extensive medical care if this were to happen to him, but she's legally powerless to do anything about it. Unfortunately, Mike never made out an advance healthcare directive authorizing sandy to make such decisions for him. Further, given that they aren't married, she can't even petition the court on this matter.

Dateline: November 14
The household bills are mounting. Mike earned a lot more than sandy did and his paychecks were directly deposited into his account. However, the account was in his name alone. Mike never created a financial durable power of attorney giving sandy access to his bank account and other financial resources if he should become disabled. She's tried to talk with the bank, even talking with a regional vice president. The bank executive was very sympathetic - she's apparently seen this happen a number of times before - but officially and legally there's not a thing she can do to help sandy. Fortunately, sandy's friends put on a benefit play party for her. The money raised will cover her absolutely baseline expenses for about two months, but that's it.

Dateline: November 21
Mike died in the ICU five days ago. His lungs developed a serious infection that resulted in an unstoppable respiratory failure. He had mentioned to sandy that he wanted to be cremated but that's not going to happen. Instead, his parents are having his body shipped back home to Georgia for "a proper funeral and burial." They send sandy an email angrily forbidding her to attend the service.

Dateline: December 2
Because Mike died without a will, was not legally married, and had no children (or, therefore, grandchildren) , all of his property now belongs to his parents. This matter is moving through the probate court, and it looks like they'll get virtually everything. California doesn't recognize common law marriage, and Mike had never drawn up a will specifying what sandy would receive if he dies. She knows that he considered them "married for all practical purposes" (as did she) but that couldn't help her in court. Other than a few small personal items of an obviously feminine nature - some clothing, some inexpensive jewelry, a few personal mementos that were clearly hers to begin with (oh, and all the sex/bdsm toys - those they are all-too-happy to let her have) his parents get everything. The house, his IRA, the money in his checking and savings account, his car, his motorcycle, all the household items bought with his money - the furniture, computers, and wide-screen television, and even his dog. They'll almost certainly get them all.

Circumstances force sandy to move into a small studio apartment. Her friends donate a few items of furniture. On her first night there, she breaks down and sobs like a child.

You can see how this story could have had a better ending. If Mike had prepared what is called an "advance healthcare directive" naming sandy as the person he wanted to make his healthcare decisions, then she would have had the power to do so. This could have included the power to dispose of his remains as he wished.

Further, if he had prepared what's called a "springing durable power of attorney" then she could have had access to his bank accounts and other financial resources to the extent that he specified when he created the document. Many banks and other financial institutions have their own form, and things can go much more smoothly if this form is filled out rather than presenting an outside form - even if the institution' s legal department does (eventually) decide that it is valid.

Also, if he had written a will then she could have received virtually all of his property.

Additionally, if they had prepared some documents specifying that certain items of property were owned "in common with right of survivorship" then every item of property mentioned in them would have automatically become hers upon his death.

Finally, they just might have re-contemplated the idea of getting married. California is a community property state, therefore everything acquired during the marriage is community property, and automatically passes to the surviving spouse, unless it's received by gift or inheritance.

Good people, please don't let the scenario above be played out with your names involved. Good old Nolo Press ( puts out some wonderful books for unmarried couples living together that includes advice on how to create an advance healthcare directive, a springing durable power of attorney, other forms, and simple wills. The California State Bar even offers free help. There is a valid fill-in-the- blanks statutory will available as a free download on their website:

Jay Wiseman, a pioneer of the San Francisco BDSM community, is internationally known and respected as an SM educator and safety expert. His books include "SM 101: A Realistic Introduction," "Jay Wiseman's Erotic Bondage Handbook," and "The Toybag Guide to Dungeon Emergencies and Supplies." As a lawyer, his areas of special interest include providing legal support for alternative communities.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

BDSM In music

I'd be interested to see what you all have to say about this discussion I'm having over at BFP's about BDSM themes in music and sexism. It's sort of a sidespin off a much more important point about how we interpret sexism in music made by white men vs. music made by black men, but I thought it might be interesting to think about over here, too.

What do you all think? Do you feel solicitous of BDSM themes in sexist songs, or do you not? I have to confess that I tend to collect songs about domination and submission and enjoy them and not think too much, even if their lyrics are M/f in a creepy way, and that I've been criticized for this by other feminists in the recent past.