Cyber Swing/Polyamory Resource Center
Promoting Intimacy and Other-Centered Sexuality
SWING LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE
Report on Legal Issues & Swinging as a Growing Business
Chicago 2/28 - 2/29/2004
Lawrence vs Texas - Reed Lee, with Chicago law firm of J.D. Obenberger
Swing Groups and Law Enforcement - Robyn Friedman, NSCF Outreach program
Swinging through the Eyes of the Law- Tony Lanzaratta, NASCA
Lawrence vs Texas: the Supreme Court and Our Right to Have Sex -Jim Turner, Attorney Swankin and Turner
ILA Highlights - Bob Hannaford, President of ILA (The International Lifestyle Association)
Lunch-time with Money, Jim Weissman, Lifestyles Financial Services
How to Market your Business: "It's all about the buck" - Ron Gould, Club Adventure
Closing Remarks Vivienne Kramer, Chair, NSCF
This was an outstanding conference Co-Sponsored by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and Ron and Sue who operate Club Adventure and have been active in the Lifestyle community for over 25 years. Very nice hotel and outstanding speakers on a wide variety of swing clubs issues, especially the legal issues clubs face today. The major Lifestyle associations participated with fine speakers as well as First Amendment attorneys and others with valuable information to share.
The following report compiled by myself - Dave in Phoenix co-founder of Liberated Christians in 1993, a swing and polyamory resource center at http://www.libchrist.com , is based on my notes and best recollection of what speakers said. I hope my own bias didn't enter into my commentary, but I can not guarantee 100% accuracy from my frantic long hand note taking. Sue who did a great deal of work to make the conference happen, also encouraged me to post details of conference on website and public groups when I asked for her permission.
Day 1 Saturday 2/28/04 Chicago
Great sessions with many owners from all over the U.S.
Speaker Reed Lee, with Chicago law firm of J.D. Obenberger and Associates http://www.xxx.law.net who concentrates on constitutional law, in particular, on issues of free expression. He also services on the Board of the First Amendment Lawyers Association and on the Board of Directors of the Free Speech Coalition.
Lawrence vs. Texas
Although tomorrow morning will be a long presentation by First Amendment Attorney Jim Turner advisor to Woodhull Freedom Foundation, another First Amendment Attorney, Reed Lee briefly discussed the case based on some questions. While he cautions that expanding Lawrence vs. Texas will be a slow process (the Supreme Court ruled against a similar case a few years ago), he predicts that within our lifetime..... ready for this... private prostitution laws also be declared unconstitutional on the same basis !
While the Lawrence case is about private sex in a home of a gay couple, Reed Lee said he finds not a word in the opinion that relies on it being in a private home. "The right to privacy is not limited to the home. It is a right to engage in intimate relationships" The decision probably invalidates the laws in 30 states that make fornication illegal. Probably no one is going to try and enforce it since if sodomy is NOT illegal per the Supreme Court, seems an easy step that fornication being a crime is also unconstitutional.
I asked if the case which is about a non commercial relationship (2 gay partners having anal sex) would seem to apply or not to a commercial transaction. He felt that while a commercial sex transaction such as swing clubs or prostitution, was not directly addressed, he feels there is a basis for argument that intimate relationships are protected whether commercial or not.
Reed Lee also commented on the Phoenix swing club situation. He had been listening in previous session where I discussed the Phoenix law. Reed in his presentation said that in his view, a law (such as Phoenix) that says you can not pay for the opportunity to see live sex could only be valid if whatever might be seen was also obscene. Seeing live sex is not really different than going to a movie and seeing the same thing. In a private discussion with Reed he confirmed his belief that the Phoenix law would not hold up if the activity being repressed was not deemed "obscene"
What is obscene? It is based on "community standards", but what "community". There have been argument regarding the Internet that there has to be a National community standard not just trying to keep Internet contact from certain cities/states where it may be "obscene" by local community standards and not others. The 3 conservative members of the Supreme Court clearly want to prevent it from going into certain cities (which is of course impossible), but the majority of the Supreme Court seems to be more in favor of a national standard.
More important Community Standards are ever changing and becoming more liberal and more sex is seen on TV, movies etc. He believes 20- 40 years of history is on our side as sexuality is been considered less and less obscene over the years. Further, society is getting more and more willing to accept consenting adult freedoms, including sexual.
Regarding prostitution laws, Reed points out that prior to the 1950's the common law was against prostitution, houses of ill repute and bawdy houses were based on the public nuisance argument. Then in 1950s specific anti prostitution laws were based which were far more restrictive than common law that was applied previously.
He also believes there is growing public opinion (reflects in community standards) to have the government leave people alone if not hurting anyone and no financial cost to the community (the cost is enforcing these victimless crime laws). Getting government to leave us alone is easier than getting something from government, such as having a swing club ask for tax increment financing. Of course would never happen but valid comparison. While the current political climate (Bushes gang) is very anti sex and trying to interfere with individual rights, that is not the direction of the overall public whose views are the basis of "community standards".
Further there is the argument that community standards apply to the community that participates in the form of expression being evaluated. The Florida swing club case clearly show this. There was no violation of community standards when the only person in the swing club offended "shocked" was the vice cop there to bust the club. That is why swing club agreements of consent and knowledge that sex and nudity can be expected can be helpful.
Swing clubs being private membership clubs also important to not violate the community standard of the members. Membership should require advanced screening and not just be able to get at the door on first visit. A history of turning down some applicants can also help the private membership club argument.
He also encourages all sex positive people to stand up and fight, united against these laws. Good examples are the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and the Woodhull Foundation. Swinging and sex positive people need their own Stonewall like gays. Gays got so fed up with the repression they revolted and the infamous Stonewall experience was the turning point to get legal changes made regarding attacks on gays.
Since I was not that familiar with Stonewall I found http://www.stonewallrevisited.com which says: For gay, lesbian and bisexual activists, the word "Stonewall" signifies quite possibly the most important, single landmark in the worldwide struggle for gay rights. Most chroniclers of the homosexual rights movement trace the beginnings of the movement's militant phase to 1969 and New York's lower-Manhattan (largely gay-frequented) Stonewall Bar. There, for the first time on record, homosexual patrons fought back when Stonewall was raided one hot summer night by New York City policemen, who came hoping to arrest gay individuals for engaging in then illegal homosexual acts. Eyewitnesses claim that the homosexual patrons' counter-riot began when one burly, Stonewall patron hurled a lidded, metal garbage can filled with empty liquor bottles through a police car window. Ever since that night, Stonewall has been revered as an enduring symbol of the gay militant spark lit that night, which has become a gay/lesbian/bisexual militant conflagration setting America -- and the world -- aflame with gay rights issues and conflicts.
While I don't agree with the violence, it was the result of gays getting so fed up with their status it was the starting point of getting laws and attitudes changed.
Swing Groups and Law Enforcement - Robyn Friedman, NSCF Outreach program
Robyn Friedman is a Criminal Defense Attorney residing in Seattle, Washington. In addition to her criminal defense work, she also works with local BDSM and sex positive organizations. She is Director of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) Legal Education Outreach Program. She has presented at leather oriented and sex-positive conferences throughout the nation, as well as in Canada.
Robyn said that there is a huge difference between private clubs and public clubs. That the clubs would be on much safer ground if their events were membership only versus open to the public. If you accept money at the door, it would give the appearance of a public event, as anyone could walk up and pay at the door and gain admittance.
Clubs and BD groups might be charged with prostitution and pandering by accepting money at the door, especially memberships. Those were the kinds of charges that could be brought by law enforcement if they were to see money being collected at the door.
In the discussion someone pointed out that this is comparable to an adult movie theater where go to see sex. Swing club owners should be careful not to have sex with any members since that could be an easier prostitution case if the person receiving the financial benefit (club owner) gets sex even if the person owner has sex with doesn't receive any money. It probably will not be upheld as pandering or prostitution in Court, but the cops will bust for it if they can.
Someone pointed out that dances at hotel which is typical for swing clubs be sure 'hospitality rooms" are not rented by the swing club or its owners. Should only be rented by club members not getting any financial gains.
Glen and Toni from Minneapolis Club H gave example of the Mpls police hearing there was a private room at a hotel being used by the swing club members. They asked to go into the room. They looked around and asked some questions and commented, nothing but sex going on and left. They didn't find anything illegal like drugs or minors.
Robyn said consensual sex between adults is not a crime. If the police want to come in, they will, and if all that is going on is consensual sex between adults, than there is nothing to hide, and you have nothing to gain by denying them entrance, other than to raise their suspicions that there is illegal activity going on. They are most likely looking for drugs and minors, and if you have done a good job in checking ID's, and make certain that drugs are not allowed, they won't have anything, and they will most likely walk away after the walk and talk. (Dave notes this seems to apply everywhere except in Phoenix AZ and Hollywood FL which have laws that make it illegal to have the opportunity to see sex acts, which can simply be a bare breast it seems)
Swinging through the Eyes of the Law- Tony Lanzaratta, NASCA,
Born in Chicago, after being in the FBI for a year, moved to California and joined LAPD. For 25 years he worked patrol, vice and traffic as well as an instructor. He retired in 2000 and went to work for LSO (Lifestyles Organization). He is now Executive Director of NASCA and has been working closely with clubs on an International level for the past four years.
Tony points out that he can only speak for Los Angeles police but stressed that cops have no interest in busting swing clubs realizing there are so many serious crime going on. Swing club lurking is very low on their priority. However there are the 3C's of vice which will result in checking swing clubs or other "vice" activities. The 3C's are:
Commercial - has to be commercial before any involvement not private parties in homes. However swing clubs in homes may violate zoning requirements and be a regular police issue.
Conspicuous - Don't have big ad in newspaper with location or signs all over streets saying have sex tonight at such an address
Complaints - This is where most vice inspections are done. Cars blocking neighbors driveways and noise are most common problems in private house parties.
There were lots of problems in LA with clubs making complaints against other clubs since they didn't like the competition. They would complain that drugs or minors were at certain clubs. Vice would investigate and find nothing but sex (which is legal). If a serious of unfounded complaints about a club a vice supervisor would warn the person that its been investigated, nothing has been found, and further complains may be considered harassment or filing false reports.
In the question period a concern was raised about clubs being sued for defective condoms if the club distributes condoms and requires them. If someone claims the condom broke because it was defected and they got trace an STD infection to it (how I don't know), they could sue the club. On the other hand clubs want to encourage safe sex and provide condoms. The solution a club owner suggested was that in their city the City Health Department makes condoms available which are labeled as from the City Health Dept. The club gets many boxes from the health dept and since they are labeled as such that should avoid legal liability of the club ... let them sue the health dept!
I asked Tony about the writing down of license plates in swing club lots. Tony said if the cars are parked on public streets, they can run license numbers looking for warrants but questionable if car is on private property. In LA Tony said the police had very strict rules requiring probably cause before running a license check for warrants.
At one time cops were running plates on cars with nice looking women to see who they were. Cops have been suspended or fired for this especially if the women complains of being called by police. Someone asked about the computers in the squad cars that can run plates. But Tony said there is a detail log made by the computer system of all such requests and officers have to show supervisor probably cause for running them.
Regarding cars at swing club parking lots, Reed Lee said very unlikely could be used in any way unless warrants were found.
From the meeting I attended with Phoenix Police Chief, and head of Phoenix vice they were taking down plate numbers but not running them. The vice head said only purpose was for witnesses if any complaints against how the police conducted themselves in the "raids". The Police Chief said he ordered it stopped. Unfortunately the Police Chief we met with just got hired as Chief in Houston. He seemed rather easy to communicate with and was willing to meet with us regarding the swing club busts in Phoenix.
A lot of harassment is going on against swing clubs in different ways all over the U.S. The Phoenix situation seems clearly the worse where we have a law against viewing live sex acts. In other cities they raid clubs, looking for minors or drugs, or alcohol violations (a big problem) and line up customers and take pictures of them. If there is no crime this is just harassment and might get a injunction to stop local police.
Day 2 Sunday 2/29/04
Lawrence vs. Texas: the Supreme Court and Our Right to Have Sex
Jim Turner, is a partner in the 30-year-old law Washington DC law firm of Swankin and Turner that specializes in consumer interest representation on a wide range of food, drug, product safety, and communications issues including first amendment protections of public and commercial speech. He is a board member of Anakosha, a coalition partner of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and an advisor to Woodhull Freedom Foundation.
Jim agreed with the previous days brief discussion of Lawrence by Reed Lee, First Amendment Attorney. Newsweek Magazine called the Lawrence case one of the most important Supreme Court decisions in the last 100 years.
The result was both expected and another part was a great surprise. It was widely expected that under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, that the sodomy law that ONLY applied to gays and not to heterosexual couples would be struck down. The decision was 7-2 on that issue with as usual the very conservative Justices Scalia and Thomas dissenting.
But the next part was a shocker - The Human Rights decision. With the addition of O'Connor and (forget who) dissenting the majority of the Court by a close 5-4 decision said it was a human rights issue to be able to have individual liberty to seek enjoyment in what ever way someone pleased that didn't hurt others or the State. Also used the right to privacy argument which in the opinion the wording was taken directly from the Roe vs Wade abortion rights case. And then the decision went even further to say that laws based on MORALITY were unconstitutional !!!! That is a 180 degree shift from many previous lower court decisions. (In fact "protecting the morality" is written in as part of the Phoenix law outlawing swing clubs.)
Not discussed at meeting but let me remind folks the key points I have pointed out before about the Lawrence case:
U.S. Supreme Court Justices say in Lawrence v. Texas:
"Liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places. In our tradition the State is not omnipresent in the home. And there are other spheres of our lives and existence, outside the home, where the State should not be a dominant presence. Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds. Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct." [Kennedy, writing for the majority, 02-102, June 2003]
"A law branding one class of persons as criminal solely based on the State's moral disapproval of that class and the conduct associated with that class runs contrary to the values of the Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause, under any standard of review." [O'Connor, concurring in part, 02-102, June 2003
Thomas Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence, wrote, "..that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights. ... That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." I believe that sexuality falls under pursuit of happiness !
Contrast this U.S. Supreme Court case with a recent 11th Circuit Case supporting the outlawing of sex toys !
Alabama Can Ban Sex Toy Sales Based on Morality per 11th Circuit but ..before the Lawrence Supreme Court Case
In the case regarding the State of Alabama and the banning of the sale of sex toys, here is what the 11th Circuit Court concluded regarding the District Court's determination that the statute lacked a rational basis. "The State's interest in public morality is a legitimate interest rationally served by the statute. The crafting and safeguarding of public morality has long been an established part of the States' police power to legislate and indisputably is a legitimate government interest under rational basis scrutiny. A statute banning the commercial distribution of sexual devices is rationally related to this interest. Alabama argues a ban on the sale of sexual devices and related orgasm stimulating paraphernalia is rationally related to a legitimate legislative interest in discouraging prurient interests in autonomous sex' and that it is enough for a legislature to reasonably believe that commerce in the pursuit of orgasms by artificial means for their own sake is detrimental to the health and morality of the State." [Williams v. Pryor, 240 F.3d 944 (11th Cir. 2001)]
BUT the Lawrence Case has clearly overturned that line of thinking! And of course the U.S. Supreme Court overrules all state courts and District Circuit Courts.
Remember that The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 1876 that a woman could not practice law in the State of Illinois because "God has designed her for the more domestic role." That was following the culture and religious beliefs of the day!
Back to attorney Jim Turners Comments:
Confirming prior attorney's comments, culture has moved forward on this issue and we now have to progress even further. Up until Lawrence we didn't have nearly as strong law on our side. As the saying goes if you have the law on your side go with the law. If not you need political action to change the law. Today we are seeing a shift in the law to the side of individual rights of sexual expression and laws can not be based on "morality".
Ever since 1776 the U.S. has moved forward from the Pilgrims views of individual freedoms, to more and more freedoms and individual rights respecting a more diverse culture. The movement has been in spurts and some fights have been long hard battles. Abolishing slavery, women's right to vote, the legality of interracial marriages and the right to abortion are a few of the major hard fought battle for individual rights in America. More recently the gays have been winning more and more rights. Now its time for all sex positive people.
But as we move toward more individual freedoms as a culture there is a huge backlash against it. President Bush is desperately fighting every way he can against this cultural move to more individual rights. On the gay marriage issue, he knows he can't stop the progress other than by a constitutional amendment which in Jim's view will never get passed.
As recently as the end of World War II, common "morals" were very restrictive. Swingers here very much in the closet but we have come a long way just since 1945 and progress towards individual liberties will continue.
But there are those like the religious right and President Bush trying to get their votes that seek to impose order and their idea of what is allowed personal expression vs the larger cultural shift which is opening up to support individual rights vs imposing by law a rigid morality structure. As the culture moves to more and more sexual freedom those that want to repress rights (Bush etc) pass more and more laws that have to be challenged and now can be on Constitutional grounds with the arguments in the Lawrence case.
In the gay marriage issue, the California Supreme Court will not grant an injunction against the San Francisco Mayor for granting gay marriage licenses. Likewise in New York the courts are realizing the law against same sex couples may not be constitutional. That is why Bush is so strongly pushing for a constitutional amendment which is very unlikely to get passed.
Regarding polyamory - maybe numbers of partners will also be a legitimate right for individual freedom. We have a rapidly growing Muslim population that believes in more than one wife. Do they have the right to practice their beliefs. Do Mormons? Under the present constitution they just may. The only way to change it would be again amending the constitution to take away those rights.
The bedrock of our culture is moving forward but we have institutions (religious right) that desperately want to stop progress but they are going against the cultural trend.
I asked his view of how important the Bush judicial appointments are and if getting more conservative judges, and eventually a Bush or other conservative appointment on the Supreme Court could stop the progress. Jim indicated that yes that is a definite risk and those against our freedoms will continue to make laws restricting sexual rights in hopes that by the time it is challenged the makeup of the Supreme Court will be more conservative like Scalia and Thomas.
I asked his view if commercial sexual activities would be harder to get protected such as prostitution. Yes, there are other argument that can be raised against commercial activities in order to assure "order" in the community such as licensing etc which can if reasonable, restrict or control a constitutionally protected activity.
Jim pointed out as evidence of the movement of the culture, how few actually follow the sexual restrictions of the "moral majority" which actually is very few in number based on their activities. How many only have procreative sex as some groups think should be the law as it was many years ago. Or have premarital sex... or even masturbate which some groups think is such a sin. The imposed rules simply don't work in our culture. And with Lawrence morality can no longer be a basis for laws regulating sexual expression. It is what the people DO, that is the culture not what they preach!
Jim asked the other First Amendment attorney Reed Lee if he agreed or had any comments. Reed said he basically agreed with all of Jim's comments and went on to point out the huge difference in the prior Supreme Court decision in Hardwick vs Bowers from 17 years ago. The Bowers case that upheld the Sodomy law looked to traditions and history of the people and the Court found no general public acceptance of gay sodomy 17 years ago. But the Lawrence case completely reversed what the important question should be. Not history but the question should be regarding individual rights of sexual expression not traditions and history but what the current culture does. The Court in its decision made a commitment to protecting individual sexual expression which is a totally new application of a constitution principal.
Scalia is afraid all hell would break lose in his dissent in Lawrence will all sorts of terrible sexual activities being allowed. But this was exactly the same argument made to keep slavery the law as well as not to grant interracial marriage. But the nation survived!
But there is a very serious danger of the Bush "Dynasty". He has a huge desire to change society the way he thinks it should be "Bush is insulting every prime issue the U.S. was founded on" Yes very concerned that the Bush team and judicial appointments can slow down the progress towards individual sexual liberty.
Another Attorney responds from reading my initial report: Comments from Doug who is an attorney who along with wife Nancy founded Anakosha in Florida
Many thanks for a fine report. We really wanted to be there and agonized that we couldn't. Maybe next time.
I am not as optimistic about Lawrence as others. It's a really good step forward. But it was 5-4, and the conservative sex-haters loathe it deeply. Every inch of ground from here on will be hard fought, and many bad decisions will come down from the conservative-dominated federal courts before any more come from a Supreme Court which may itself not be willing to go very far forward from it.
After saying I'd like to include his remarks, Doug says: Let me "revise and extend my remarks", as they say in Congress.
I think extending the Lawrence case even one step beyond the narrow confines of its facts is going to be hard, and here's why:
There is a 1999 study by two Cornell law professors which statistically evaluated federal appeals decisions in civil rights cases. Bearing in mind that the average rate of reversal in the broad range of appeals is about one third, they found that if you were a losing plaintiff (victim) in a civil rights case (discrimination, violation of constitutional rights), you had a 6% chance of getting a reversal. If you were a losing defendant (employer, entity of government), it was 46%. They concluded that the federal courts were significantly biased against civil rights plaintiffs.
The reason for that is that the federal courts in general, and the federal appeals courts in particular, are dominated by highly conservative judges appointed by Reagan and the two Bushes. That's why it's going to be hard to expand Lawrence.
These are not the kinds of conservatives who populate the Lifestyle, that is, libertarian conservatives. They are the socially oppressive kind, religious and puritanical, who think it's fine to tell everyone else how to live their private lives, especially when it comes to sex. That is not universally true, but it's true enough that the libertarian conservatives on the bench lack the spine to go against the oppressors.
We're dealing with a militant force, apart from the judges. They believe and proclaim that the country is in the middle of a cultural war -- which they declared -- and which they believe is every bit as important to the soul of the nation as the war against terrorism. That's richly ironic, because for them their cause is itself tied up with religion, a form of the Christian religion which in application starts to resemble the Taliban, heavily intertwined with government and very restrictive of private behavior and public expression. That's why I call them Taliban West.
I don't like to say that people should vote Democratic if they love the lifestyle of sexual sharing, especially since a preponderance of lifestylers surveyed described themselves as conservative (according to Terry Gould). What I do say is that if the libertarians and more traditional conservatives and moderates don't retake control of the Republican Party, they are leaving it to Democrats to fight these battles for them (who will do it their own way). And hard battles there will be, and every one of them will be bloody. I say this as a civil rights lawyer with the scars to prove it.
You know, the great civil rights justices Warren and Brennan were Eisenhower appointees, and Stevens, who voted with the majority in Lawrence, was a Ford appointee. There still is a moderate wing of the Republican Party. It just needs to be let out of the closet.
So Lawrence will not sweep the cultural landscape overnight. It will take decades. It took the Supreme Court thirty years to figure out that if your body was private enough for abortion, it was private enough for homosexual conduct. It will take them a good long while to recognize that purely private sex with others, and private commercial sex -- commercial swing clubs, prostitution -- and other intimate personal interaction such as BDSM, deserve constitutional protection, too.
Still, the struggle to protect our lifestyle(s) needs to go forward, otherwise we risk endless persecution. All of us can help. Engage in responsible, ethical behavior, guided by leaders of any group you are affiliated with. Encourage your group leaders to stay legally current, and to have dialogue with local authorities when appropriate. Join national advocacy groups such as National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. When in dialogue with antagonists, insist on tolerance and argue for acceptance. And always, be proud. Our values may not be the family values of the far right, but they are OUR values, which round out our lives and give us joy and enrichment in interaction with our friends.
Bob Hannaford, President of ILA (The International Lifestyle Association). Bob and Tess Hannaford have been throwing "swing parties" for over 8 years. Their parties grew and eventually they created N"awlins in November, the countries most successful couples-only, hotel takeover convention. Once Regional Directors of NASCA, Bob and Tess formed ILA along with other lifestyle business owners representing publishing, travel, clubs, conventions and the Internet.
Excellent presentation on the business side of swinging. Mentioned "our" Nancy and Milo of Club Chameleon being on the board and the Phoenix problems.
But overall the swing industry is rapidly becoming more and more popular with new participants all the time. But the religious backlash is growing because especially on the commercial side trying to argue prostitution etc. Yet the industry in its rapid growth is bringing in more and more business such as Castaway Travel, accountants like Jim Weissman that specializes in swing clubs and swingers and other diverse groups benefiting from the large amount of money by the rapidly growing swing industry.
Talked about the Phoenix law being a safety (health issue) and "morality". Hollywood Florida passed virtually the same law as Phoenix and other cities will follow if law continues to be upheld in Phoenix.
He gave many examples of police harassment of clubs all over the U.S. In Ala a off premise club was raided but all charges dismissed except for one women who flashed her breasts and was convicted of indecent exposure. Her name was all over the local papers and the city sued the hotel to get the list of all hotel guests the night of the raid, even though not all guests had anything to do with the swing club. I believe he said they did win in Court to suppress the names from being released to the media.
Across the U.S. lots of house parties being busted for zoning violations. In MA and undercover media reporter did negative stories on hotel parties. In Orlando 30-40 cops wearing black hoods raided a club and arrested all the customers but NOT the owner. But the owners wife was charged with pandering and prostitution. In New York, Mayor Giuliani ran most swing clubs out of the city, especially Manhattan by harassment. In Southern California, the birthplace of swinging the police used aerial photos of a club owner taking money from party house to home to get him for illegally running a business out of his home. There are just a few examples that have come to the attention of ILA.
One club, the Farm in a very rural area of PA (I think), did everything right. They met with the police the city, the head of zoning to be sure there would be no problems for the club. Everyone thought the club was great and nothing to worry about. But then the head of zoning was killed in a auto crash and the new zoning head was a fundamental Christian that was hell bent on imposing his morality on everyone.
Bob and wife Tess were put on TV with pictures like mug shots regarding their club. Their son was harassed in school about his parents being those sex club owners. Even if they refused to talk to the media, media using the Freedom of Information act found all their personal information, home address etc from drivers license records.
They is also a huge growing market for gay/lesbian swing clubs. Most are dual income families with no children so often have money to spend. There are now gay swing clubs with lots of members in Key West, New Orleans, Minneapolis and San Francisco. More nudist clubs are also becoming more swinger friendly.
Bob then did great job of showing how all the participating associations should all be supported and everyone work together for the common good of swinging. All these groups had representative at the meeting and helped sponsor except for ITCR:
WFF - Woodhull Freedom Foundation http://www.woodhullfederation.org is the sexual activist group trying to help at the grass root level working with cities to prevent any problems. He described them as like Smokey the Bear trying to prevent the forest fires before they begin. WFF includes all aspects of sexual freedom, including strip clubs etc. He praised their 72 page manual on their website on grass root community activism.
NCSF - National Coalition for Sexual Freedom http://www.ncsfreedom.org Helps put out the fires. For example in New Orleans mess the police chief did a press conference about sex clubs but very quickly with the help of NCSF the club issued its own detailed press release which resulted in the media challenging the Police Chief on some of his statements. The result was lots of newspaper and other media articles/stories on how the Police Chief overstepped his authority in going after swing clubs.
NASCA - North American Swing Club Association (but now International) http://www.nasca.com is the oldest swing club organization in the U.S. They were in early days as well as now, very effective in getting swing club owners together tto talk about common issues. But they are not activists like some of the other participants. They also are very effective with their literature and website helping beginning swingers or those thinking about getting involved in swinging.
ITCR - Institute for 21st Century Relationships http://www.lovethatworks.org Does scientific studies on positive sexuality for example to show that swinging and other sexual expression is not a health risk etc. The need for these studies was shown in the Phoenix case where a prominent medical person couldn't produce scientific studies showing swinging is not an AIDS risk. He testified to that effect, but the 9th Circuit disregarded since he had no studies to back up his conclusions.
ILA - International Lifestyle Association http://www.theila.org is a non-profit trade association that collectively benefits each other by activism for legalized swinging in all the U.S.. Goal is to have a easy city licensing procedure for swing clubs with reasonable restrictions such as proper zoning etc and not having to worry about police busts. Their goals include cities developing Sexual Encounter Zones for prostitution houses and swing clubs.
They have produced a Law enforcement outreach pamphlet for clubs to know what to do when the police question them.
They did a massive letter writing campaign to the board of Cendant. Cendant is the world's largest hotel franchisor with more than 6,400 hotels, nearly 540,000 rooms and 5,200 lodging franchisees. They had a "controversial guest policy" where franchisers could cancel reservations of swing clubs having parties or dances in their hotels (which includes Ramada, Howard Johnson, Super 8, Travelodge and others) After meeting with the Cendant Board they rescinded their controversial guest policy showing what a huge profit center in swing clubs they were missing.
They are involved in the St Paul MN case where police took pictures of swing club customers and hope to prevent the release of the pictures to the media. They also have a member access resource section of their site which has the largest amount of swinging research.
A Lunch-time with Money, Jim Weissman, Lifestyles Financial Services - http://www.LifestyleFinancialSvc.com
Jim with his very nice "slutty wife" Mary Ellyn (meant as a complement how good she looked - she wore very enticing outfit, saying Sue told her to dress slutty) has had his own accounting firm for 25 years. Jim (and I assume wife) have been lifestyle participants for over thirty years and has owned and operated several adult businesses. His accounting firm specializes in accounting, tax problems and business planning for individuals and small businesses involved in alternative lifestyles. I had a good discussion with Jim since I also come from a CPA background, had my own tax practice many years before I became involved in Financial Planning. Jim and I had followed somewhat similar paths in our background.
Jim did a good discussion of different business structures for clubs, the importance of keeping good records both for tax purposes and business planning. Jim feels as I do that paying taxes while taking advantage of all the possible tax reduction opportunities is extremely important. Not having good records the IRS can come after you and say you made a large amount of money and the burden of proof is on you to prove you didn't. As I commented in discussion it is far easier to put you in jail for tax evasion, failure to file or money laundering than for being in a fringe adult business. Jim pointed out that this was Chicago well known for Al Capone who they could only convict for tax fraud, not his other criminal activities.
Having come from a CPA background myself, I found Jim to be very professional, knowledgeable, and I would highly recommend him to those in the Chicago area.
Follow up comments
This is Mary Ellyn, Jim is buried in the usual tax season madness!
We were both pleased and flattered by your positive review of our presentation on Sunday at the Swing Leadership conference.
Had only two minor corrections to add....
1) We service clients across the country, not only in the Chicagoland area. Currently we service clients in thirteen states and have dealt with most of the 48 contiguous states for one thing or another in addition to England, Mexico, and several middle eastern and African countries.
2) I do not only dress slutty when Sue asks me to!
We both had to laugh at what a small world it is when we realized that we were familiar with your website previous to meeting you, just did not put two and two together. We had put your website in our favorites against the time when we ready to purchase a sybian.
Take care, hope to see you again at a future event!
How to Market your Business: "It's all about the buck"
Ron Gould, Club Adventure http://www.clubadventure.org has been a dynamic speaker around the country in the flooring business, motivating and inspiring them to be good businesses. Ron and his wife Sue who hosted and arranged this conference operate Club Adventure and have been active in the Lifestyle for over 25 years.
Ron was an excellent speaker, excited about the future of swing clubs and how it is important to cooperate with other clubs which helps everyone. They also want to be sure nothing bad happens at club that would bring negative media coverage to the whole industry in a local area.
At the Club Adventure "Leap Year" party on Saturday night there were hundreds of couples at the hotel party, lots of energy and even nudity. Knowing what you can and can not do in a particular city is important. He would never allow what went on last night if the hotel was in the city of Chicago for example. Meeting city officials, knowing the laws as well as being a private club keeps you out of trouble. The hotel had a great small second floor which was entirely used for the party. Signs were posted at the stairs going up that it was a private party and security made sure no one entered the floor without wrist bans given to members after they checked in on the ground floor. Membership is very private with detailed records kept about each member. Before the party there was also an introduction meeting for new club members.
In the area there are 9 clubs that work closely together instead of being jealous or fighting for each others customers. Swingers enjoy variety and new experiences to they often rotate between various clubs which benefits everyone. They coordinate their party schedules and meet every 3 or 4 months to discuss common issues and support each other. A friendly relationship between clubs helps all the clubs attract members instead of fighting each other for members.
Ron sees swinging as getting more and more popular and "mainstream". Fox news in Chicago is even now visiting clubs not reporting bad things but about how popular clubs are with couples. They are now even advertising on adult radio which would of been unheard of a few years ago. Swingers are coming out of the closet and with the majority of the population just no big deal except of course for the moral majority...minority. Another key is operating as a legitimate respectable business and you will be viewed as such. They now have 3 locations and other clubs have multiple city locations as they expand to meet the rapidly increasing number of swingers. Club Adventure started out in a home, then moved to a "sleazy" hotel and now to a very high class hotel which is definitely the way to go and attract quality customers and profits.
I asked the question about how hard it was to get hotels to allow dances and off premise parties. Ron said its the hotels that are soliciting them for the business because the club has a reputation of paying its bills, bring in lots of liquor revenue, lots of guests rent rooms and the hotels say that swingers are some of the nicest most well behaved groups to have in the hotel. I have heard this before about hotels reactions to Lifestyles conventions. The hotels want the business but in California it was the Alcohol Beverage Commission that made it so miserable for hotels by over enforcement of ABC restrictions such as any nudity or simulated sex in Calf hotels, which is why Lifestyles no longer has its conventions in California.
Ron gave the example of the hotel we were in, the night before their parties their is a bible study group that pays $100 for a meeting space. From Club Adventure the hotel makes $12,000 to $15,000 a night once a month except for their big event in September when they have to go to a bigger hotel. Money talks to the hotels and they aren't going to pay much attention if there was any complaints from the bible study group! They are also getting corporate sponsors for events like Miller-Light. Swingers are a powerful financial force and most hotels respect the money they bring in over religious right morality complaints. The New Orleans club is welcomed by 4 star Crown Plaza in downtown New Orleans with no problems.
Hotel dancers/ parties are wonderful since all the alcohol serving and requirements are taken care of, the maids do the laundry vs. in on premise clubs and .. forgot some other good advantages mentioned. Obviously there is no sex in the dance area but members rent hotel rooms for private, perfectly legal sexual expression.
Closing Remarks Vivienne Kramer, Chair, NSCF
Vivienne has been an activist for 15 years; she started by helping to keep women's health clinics open in 1989. She was Treasurer of the New England Leather Alliance until 2001 when she took over as Chair. She has led the SM-leather-fetish world on a national scale as Chair of NCSF since March 2002. Her experiences have solidified her lifelong commitment to activism. "It matters little what I do 9-5, I want to be judged by what I give back in my volunteer life." Since she can't be Cher, being a dedicated, sexual freedom fighter is good enough.
NSCF is often a reactive organization, with their media committee helping with press releases to counter negative publicity or for example helping those in divorce situations where a persons "immoral lifestyle" is being used against them in a custody proceeding. They have been activists since 1997 and about 18 months ago added swinging and polyamory to their prior specialty of the SM Leather fetish support. All these groups have similar challenges and can work together to support each other to express their sexuality. They also have an incident response team trying to help for example in Phoenix with the current legal situation.
They also issue action alerts to their 40 coalition partners which in term pass on to their members reaching about 10,000 concerned people.
Eventually they want to be able to hire lobbyists to help fight for changes in laws or against proposed laws. But for now they are an all volunteer organization.
In discussion time I thanked all the groups that had participated trying to help the desperate Phoenix situation which is widely known as the worst problem in the U.S. and that the Phoenix law written by the Community Defense Counsel whose goal is to help 1000 cities across America pass anti sex laws. I mentioned that I had given Nancy (Club Chameleon which is leading the fight in Phoenix) the url for the Community Defense Counsel http://www.communitydefense.org and her response after reading the site, was it was the scariest site she had seen with the strong organization and funding to suppress our sexual rights. I understand they are also behind the banning of swing clubs in Hollywood Florida, now the 2nd city in the U.S. to copy the Phoenix law with probably many more to come if we can't challenge it successfully. Especially now since all the cases including appeal to the 9th Circuit have been lost.
But in Phoenix we have formed the AZ Sexual Expression Freedom Coalition (SEFC) with participation from a wide range of sex positive people with diverse ways of sexual expression from the swing clubs, strip clubs, gay groups, porn, leather folks, BDSM, adult publishers and other adult business owners. We welcome all the ideas and help we can get from the various groups so well represented at this conference. But we also realize how important local organization is.
I asked if anyone had any comments on forming A Political Action Committee since that was one option being considered by SEFC. Vivienne said her experience was they were a "pain in the ass" due to the extensive reporting and detailed requirements. She had been treasure for the Now Assn for Women in Boston which had formed a PAC. She says a 501c3 or c4 organization can do some lobbying which may be more practical than forming a PAC.
There was a great deal of vocal support for the Phoenix situation, but exactly what to do next in the fight is the problem. We are developing an action plan at SEFC, which includes political pressure, media response (which has been very positive against the swing club law), outreach to various organizations, publicity and working on changing laws either by lobbying or citizens iniative action.
I have a comprehensive history of the fight from the 1998 public hearings to 1/4/04 Updates and responses at "Phoenix Gone Wild Enforcing Ban on Swing Clubs Action Plan To Fight for Swingers Privacy Rights" http://www.libchrist.com/Phxgonewild/contents.html I will do updates on http://www.libchrist.com and SEFC will have a website soon. Also Club Club Chameleon has extensive information and a letter writing campaign to city officials which I also link to at http://www.clubchameleon.com/LetterOfConcern.htm Every one can help express their views to our mayor and City Counsel from this site, there are 3 suggested letters including one for those not living in Phoenix.
It was a great conference. These are the highlights!
Dave in Phoenix
Co-founder Liberated Christians
Founded in 1993 to help overcome traditional Christian traditions that have no biblical basis
Swing and Polyamory Resource Center http://www.libchrist.com
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