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Without sexual freedom, how are our other civil liberties protected?

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Martine Rothblatt accepting her award at the Sexual Freedom Day event at the National Press Club. Video by Jon Katz.

Without sexual freedom, our other civil liberties are not sufficiently protected.

Around two months before I started law school, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to permit states to continue criminalizing sodomy (oral sex and anal intercourse). Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986). That effectively exposed millions of people to prosecution and conviction. Seventeen years later, the Supreme Court, ruling 6-3, barred criminalization of consensual adult sodomy. Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003).

Little did I realize before starting law school that the Supreme Court would even get in the way of consensual oral sex. By the time I read Bowers, I realized that nothing is automatically sacred at the Supreme Court.

For over a decade, my law practice has included handling sexual-related matters in the criminal and civil courts. This work includes defense of charges of prostitution, child pornography, sexual assault, solicitation of minors for sex, and indecent exposure; and representing the rights of adult entertainers, adult video stores, adult websites, adult cabarets/strip clubs, and escorts. The First Amendment often comes into play with these cases. Also on the First Amendment front, I defend libel defendants and political activists.

Several years ago, I became aware of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. Woodhull promotes sexual freedom going beyond the rights of individual sexual identity (e.g., heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) to include polyamory, swinging, and bondage/domination. As I understand it, Woodhull’s focus is to secure the right of  consenting adults to make a personal choice on such matters. What is particularly important to me is that people be permitted to make their own choices about their sexuality while respecting the right of others to make their own choices.

On September 23, 2010, I attended the awards lunch of Woodhull’s first annual Sexual Freedom Day, held at the National Press Club, and also went to the celebration that evening at a local restaurant. The day included an afternoon press conference releasing the State of Sexual Freedom in the U.S. 2010 Report.   I cannot find the report online yet; I obtained a CD of the report, which is on my reading lis.

The event’s speakers included three people I have known for around a decade: Adult Video News legal editor Mark Kernes; Larry Walters, with whom I worked as local counsel a few years ago on a First Amendment defense case; and actress Nina Hartley, whom I first met when featured at the 2001 regional Video Software Dealers Association meeting. 

Among the five awardees , the most interesting of the speakers were Kushaba Moses Mworeko , who sought asylum from Uganda apparently in part or in full due to his sexual orientation; and Martine Rothblatt, of satellite radio fame.

Above is a short Blackberry video I took during Martine’s award acceptance speech. In the video, she makes a good challenge against pigeonholing people into gender roles.  

Martine has a fascinating resume, extending beyond satellite radio. She is the chair and CEO of United Therapeutics, which is just three blocks from my office. She also is the chair of the Terasem Movement, which purports to promote the geoethical (world ethical) use of nanotechnology for human life extension. We conduct educational programs and support scientific research and development in the areas of cryogenics, biotechnology, and cyber consciousness.

I briefly spoke with awardee Bina Aspen, Martine’s spouse, who told me about United Therapeutics being around the corner from me.   

Martine Rothblatt underlines that people who follow so-called alternative sexual lifestyles are found throughout society, including within the so-called mainstream establishment. As one woman says on this Woodhull Foundation video, people choose ice cream flavors and their sexual lifestyles. That is their own business.

ADDENDUM: Sexual Freedom Day was covered by such organizations as Politico. The Woodhull Foundation has blog links for the day.