Congress

Get Government Out of the Bathroom

Will the Craig scandal finally return the GOP to the party of Goldwater?

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Read Nick Gillespie's take on the Sen. Larry Craig scandal at the L.A. Times.

NEXT: The Other Nurse Mike*

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  1. Nick Mention Foley, Vitter, etc. One should also remember Jack Ryan, who had kinky hetero sex with his own wife and was consequently drummed out by the Illinois GOP and replaced with Alan Keyes, thereby handing the office over to whatever human life was running as a Democrat.

  2. I’m not really sure that needs explaining.

  3. The general point that the government should get out of regulating private sexual behavior is sound, but, sorry, sex acts in public restrooms are simply not ‘private sexual behaviors’. They should (and I’m sure they will) remain both illegal and embarrassing.

  4. We’re talking about a PUBLIC bathroom. Are you really saying that type of behavior is okay in an area where children, who need facilities frequently, are present? Get off your government paranoia high horse and get real.

  5. Nick,

    Office Mancuso wholeheartedly supports your position.

  6. “They should (and I’m sure they will) remain both illegal and embarrassing.”

    Yes, sex acts in bathrooms shouldn’t be legal, but the whole reason that this particular act (i.e., not engaging in sex) is illegal is because it’s gay.

  7. “Officer”, not “Office.”

  8. …thereby handing the office over to whatever human life was running as a Democrat.

    “Whatever human life” was Barack Obama.
    Hell, I voted for him in order to vote against Keyes. Feel my wrath, Illinois GOP!

  9. You guys might want to rein Mr. Gillepse in a little bit. Arguing in a major newspaper that people have the right to fornicate in public restrooms is not going to win over many converts.

    This is assuming that Nick is trying to win over converts, which I admit is a questionable assumption.

  10. but, sorry, sex acts in public restrooms are simply not ‘private sexual behaviors’.

    True. And YOU and Dan T. are the only ones saying it.

  11. Both Slocum and Dan T. must’ve read a different article than I read. Where exactly is Nick proposing (or even hinting at) the elimination of public fornication laws?

  12. the whole reason that this particular act (i.e., not engaging in sex) is illegal is because it’s gay.

    So I could walk into a women’s restroom and offer my services to someone in a stall and I would not be arrested?

  13. I’m sorry, but I think we need to get MORE cops into the restrooms. We need to restore Americas moral leadership as a Christian nation.

  14. Dan T. | August 29, 2007, 11:25am | #
    You guys might want to rein Mr. Gillepse in a little bit. Arguing in a major newspaper that people have the right to fornicate in public restrooms is not going to win over many converts.

    This is assuming that Nick is trying to win over converts, which I admit is a questionable assumption.

    Maybe he’s just indicating he’s available

    [keed keed. grin grin. OMG!OMG! like, I am sooo funny!]

  15. Both Slocum and Dan T. must’ve read a different article than I read. Where exactly is Nick proposing (or even hinting at) the elimination of public fornication laws?

    “But the Craig scandal also provides the Republican Party, battered into minority status in Congress after years of domestic and foreign overreach, a golden opportunity to recover its attractive minimal-government heritage, at least when it comes to using the state to police sexual behavior among consenting adults.”

  16. Umm, yeah. I don’t think that the Popo should be trying to arrest people for ASKING if they want to have sex in a public bathroom. Especially if said asking is sufficiently subtle that they have to be an ‘expert’ to recognize it. But actual sex in a public bathroom is not NEARLY private enough.

    Blah blah decoder ring blah blah, but consensual sex in private and consensual sex in public are two separate things. Even in libertopia I’d like to think that the private police force can bust folks for sex in an open-access location unless it’s clear that they’ve got the permission of the owners of said space.

  17. In all this, why doesn’t anyone express dismay at the fact that such behaviors as tapping feet and moving hands could be taken by police as evidence of a sex solicitation? Does it occur to anyone that he may have been fishing for toilet paper, for instance?

  18. This is assuming that Nick is trying to win over converts, which I admit is a questionable assumption.

    It is a big improvement over the dog eating stuff, but that may have been b4 your time, Dan T.

  19. Get The Government Out of The Bathroom.

    Great headline.

    In my county, one where you’re likely as not to get put on hold when you call 911, the Sheriff has a task force going door to door to ensure that every small business has all it’s papers in order including evidence of Work Comp insurance.

  20. So I could walk into a women’s restroom and offer my services to someone in a stall and I would not be arrested?

    Are you a gay woman?

  21. Tap, Tap, Tap…

  22. Both Slocum and Dan T. must’ve read a different article than I read.

    When responding to Dan T. it may be useful to know that he never reads TFA.

  23. It is a big improvement over the dog eating stuff, but that may have been b4 your time, Dan T.

    I can only imagine…”Get the government out of our breakfast nooks”.

  24. MP, also “here’s hoping that the Idaho politician will eventually draw on traditional Republican principles and stand up for his right to engage in consensual sex in toilet stalls with men.”

    That kinda sounds like proposing elimination of public fornication laws, at least with respect to restrooms.

    I think Nick may be being kind of snarky, and as I’ve said, Craig wasn’t arrested for sex in a public bathroom but for engaging in relatively cryptic actions that the policeman interpreted as asking for sex.

  25. MP, also “here’s hoping that the Idaho politician will eventually draw on traditional Republican principles and stand up for his right to engage in consensual sex in toilet stalls with men.”

    Apparently, I did read a different article.

  26. I can only imagine…”Get the government out of our breakfast nooks”.

    D00d pissed me off, and I don’t even really like dogs.

    I have been moving. Has Nick touched the M. Vick thingee while I was away?

  27. Frank | August 29, 2007, 11:33am | #

    I’m sorry, but I think we need to get MORE cops into the restrooms. We need to restore Americas moral leadership as a Christian nation.
    _________________________________________

    Frank is on to something! Why not have MOST cops should spend MOST of their time taking fake ducies? At least the one’s who’d otherwise be shooting nonviolent citizens. This could be our big chance to make real progress rolling back the WOD! By starting the W.O.Stuff that makes Frank say “Ewwww”!

  28. Cops out of the restrooms?????

    But isn’t that where the Dicks are suppose to hang out?

  29. We’re talking about a PUBLIC bathroom. Are you really saying that type of behavior is okay in an area where children, who need facilities frequently, are present? Get off your government paranoia high horse and get real.

    To judge by his article, Gillespie doesn’t necessarily disagree with you on that. But the effect of public restroom sex on The Children (TM) has to be evaluated as rationally and pragmatically as the effect of sex, violence, and profanity on television, for example. Many apparent no-brainers become very questionable in light of this consistent libertarian logic.

  30. “So I could walk into a women’s restroom and offer my services to someone in a stall and I would not be arrested?”

    You’d be arrested even without offering sex services, silly.

  31. “but, sorry, sex acts in public restrooms are simply not ‘private sexual behaviors’….”True. And YOU and Dan T. are the only ones saying it.”

    The Senator didn’t perform any sex acts, fellas. Nobody seems to be recognizing the facts.

  32. I didn’t RTFA, but most of these threads about Craig (and I am with, in principle anyway, the whole “get the gubmint get out of our stalls, bedrooms, et al” crowd) miss a central point. Many of the readers and posters here must be either incredibly obtuse or in complete denial. Most of this can be sorted out by calling out the Libertarian default party, you know, the the Republican one, for having the baiting of homophobes as one of its central campaign and policy pillars.

    This issue comes down pretty nicely along party lines; that is, one party consistently fans the flames of homophobia. Everyone who skews right needs to try to get his/her own political house in order before bitching about the broader issue. Start by telling every politician who demagogues the gay-marriage (or sodomy) issue and then gets caught dabbling in gay sex to fuck off first, then those of us who never voted those hypocrites into office in the first place would be happy to throw our support behind a total ceasefire on the criminalization and marginalization of homosexuals. Hell, I’d even extoll the virtues of Craig’s effort to roll back the Patriot Act.

    I know how much fun it must be to pretend it’s not one political party consistently providing most of the actors in this homophobic drama, but it’s pretty alienating to a lot of co-belligerents on a slew of other issues. And it makes the GOP look totally ridiculous.

  33. Let me emphasize a few points.

    (a) I don’t know if Sen. Craig is guilty or not. All I know is that the article says a cop supposedly interpreted some ambiguous actions by Craig as soliciting sex, and that Craig pleaded to a lesser charge. This guilty plea could either indicate guilt *or* a desire to get the proceedings over with. The results of a plea-bargain don’t necessarily correspond to the reality of what happened.

    (b) Of course there should be laws against having or soliciting sex in public bathrooms.

    (c) Even if Craig denounced bathroom sex, that doesn’t mean such behavior should be legalized because of Craig’s hypocrisy. I’m sure there are plenty of examples of Congressmen who speak eloquently against corruption and then take bribes. Should our response to such hypocrisy be to legalize bribery? I have even heard rumors of Congressmen who give eloquent speeches supporting libertarian principles and then voting for pork-barrel spending or onerous regulations. Should we therefore reject libertarianism?

  34. You’d be arrested even without offering sex services, silly.

    Frankly, we’re all a little surprised he hasn’t been arrested already.

  35. NoStar wins the thread.
    Dan T. wins a free assplug.
    Frank wins a free treatment at a homophobia clinic.

  36. It seems to me, in a perfectly Libertarian world, sex in public restrooms would not be illegal. But the owners of this or that airport could set whatever sex in the toilet policy they wish, enforced by their own private security.

  37. One more note – my comments above on the general issue of police arresting people for actual sex in a public bathroom really only applies to stalls or an open-plan bathroom in an all-ages general public area.

    If it is a one-hole, lockable (and locked) bathroom where one could reasonably expect not to be walked in upon, I’d say that the sex itself would not be public. The mile-high club might be innappropriate behavior, but it’s not public lewdness, at least not if those involved can keep it quiet. If you’re drowning out the in-flight movie with a When Harry Met Sally moment, you’re back in murky territory.

  38. Many comments here have missed the point entirely. Craig didn’t have sex in the bathroom. Repeat after me: Craig didn’t have sex in the bathroom. The charge was about soliciting the sex, not actually having the sex. All this talk about legalizing sex in the bathroom is pure straw man, red herring, whatever the hell it’s called when you tear down an irrelevant argument.

    If a man weren’t allowed to ask a woman for sex while they were in a public place (i.e., the sex to occur at my place after coffee), bars and lounges would all shut down.

    “I don’t know if Sen. Craig is guilty or not.”

    I was under the impression that he pleaded guilty. [Perhaps you mean that you don’t know if the Senator actually solicited sex from the man in the bathroom stall?]

  39. So why do we need to get the cops out of the bathroom?

    Reason promised that Nick would explain, but I’m not sure he really did.

  40. (b) Of course there should be laws against having or soliciting sex in public bathrooms.

    No, there should not be such laws. It’s about something more fundamental: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Association. Distasteful or not.

  41. Hey Nick, nobody cares what people do in private. The issue is sex acts solicited in a public restroom. If you cant see the difference you shouldnt call your blog Reason, because you have none.

  42. If it is a one-hole, lockable (and locked) bathroom where one could reasonably expect not to be walked in upon, I’d say that the sex itself would not be public. The mile-high club might be innappropriate behavior, but it’s not public lewdness, at least not if those involved can keep it quiet. If you’re drowning out the in-flight movie with a When Harry Met Sally moment, you’re back in murky territory.

    “I’d like to pee whatever she’s peeing!”

  43. Drinks for the house, on laguna!

  44. Has it even been brought out whether Craig allegedly tapped the cop’s foot, or the cop observed him tapping someone else’s? Or how big the stalls in question were, like if your foot was to stray how likely it’d be to hit someone else’s? Or whether there was toilet paper in Craig’s stall, or a roll of it that’d gotten away?

  45. Soliciting for sex without the offer of monetary consideration is already legal. If it were not the police could simply arrest virtually every person in every singles bar by monitoring their non-coded conversation.

    Why should soliciting for sex be illegal in a bathroom then?

    ONLY because of the homosexual aspect. Any of you who think Larry Craig REALLY committed a crime are probably homophobes or religious fascists.

    That said, Larry Craig’s politics do seem to fit the designation “religious fascist,” as does much of the republican “family values” crowd. Accordingly, I, like most Americans, will continue to enjoy watching this hypocrite squirm.

  46. “The issue is sex acts solicited in a public restroom.”

    Wrong again. The issue is where the solicitation itself occurs. Craig did not engage in any sex acts prior to be arrested, nor request that any occur in the bathroom. This is about solicitation, Laguna. Repeat after me: Craig engaged in no sex acts. He was arrested for solicitation. Can you say “solicitation”? You understand the concept?

    Jeez. For a person who calls into question Reason’s reason, Laguna lacks reason.

  47. I think everyone here should go to another source and read the whole story about the incident.

    Try this link.

    http://www.startribune.com/587/story/1388363.html

    Craig was apparently loitering in the bathroom, waiting for someone to come in. The cop came into the bathroom and took a stall. Craig repeatedly peeked in through the crack in the cop’s stall, before taking the stall next door. Then came the whole foot tapping and reaching under the stall. Also, when the cop flashed his badge under the stall, Craig apparently cried, “No!” in a panic.

    Sounds an awful lot like someone reacting to getting busted for something they knew they shouldn’t be doing.

    The cop was there in response to complaints of actual sexual activities taking place in said bathroom at the airport.

    So tell me. Does the cop have to wait until Craig is in his stall with his pecker out before being arresting him??

  48. Most of this can be sorted out by calling out the Libertarian default party, you know, the the Republican one…

    Umm, the Libertarian default party would, you know, the Libertarian Party. Especially so since you capitalized the first occurrence of the word in your sentence.

  49. No daveylee, the cop should have to wait until Craig made clear in any way (coded or non coded) that what he wanted was sex then and there. Sex in public places is a crime (though I personally couldnt care less, I understand the sensitivity of others on this issue). Hence once Craig is at the point of soliciting sex then and there, a valid crime justifying arrest has occurred. As it stands, we will never know in this case whether sex then and there was what Craig wanted.

  50. Skallagrim – The misdemeanor charge was actually disorderly conduct. Not solicitation. Just the fact that Craig was peering through the crack of the cop’s stall was enough to warrant that charge. The tapping of the foot and hand under the stall were initally charged as “Interference with Privacy” which is a gross misdemeanor, but that charge was dismissed.

    So yes, if some creepy guy or gal, senator or not, is hanging around a public restroom, peering into stalls with other persons in them, then the cops are well within their jurisdiction to act, particularly if there have been previous complaints made to the authorities of similar behavior (or worse) and arrests for said activities in the same area.

    I personally don’t care much about the gay aspect, other than it points up the fact that the Senator is a class A hypocrite. But that’s the case with far too many of our elected officials. Expecting to see a politician to be exposed as a hypocrite is like expecting the sun to rise in the east tomorrow.

  51. Thank you, Nick, for invoking Barry Goldwater, and for reminding the SoCons what conservatism is supposed to be about. The self-righteous buttinskis have ruined the Republican party. If it were still the party of Goldwater, the Dems wouldn’t stand a chance.

    (And thank you for being so uber-sexy, too. If Craig ran into you in an airport bathroom, I bet his foot would be tappin’ to beat the band.)

    “Do not associate my name with anything you do. You are extremists, and you’ve hurt the Republican Party much more than the Democrats have.”
    Barry Goldwater

    If he only knew how bad it was going to get. I imagine Barry Goldwater’s ashes have reunited at the bottom of the Canyon to form a dust devil, swirling about in eternal unrest over the Republican “kooks” who have had a chokehold on the party for far too long.

    Here’s Barry. Preach it, my brothah!:

    “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”

    “On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.

    I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?

    And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.'”

  52. RE: the original post… since no one has pointed it out yet: Nick, you will never get your wish in today’s America, and Frank has provided you with the reason why.
    “I’m sorry, but I think we need to get MORE cops into the restrooms. We need to restore Americas [sic] moral leadership as a Christian nation.”
    I am sympathetic to Libertarian political ideology, insofar as it supports the concept of individual liberty – the cornerstone of our democracy. But let’s get real… for the last 25 years, the Religious Right has had the Republican party by the balls, and they don’t give a fuck about individual liberty. They want universal subscription to their ideal of a “Christian Nation” – by whatever means necessary.
    Until you get them back into the margins (where I think they belong), you’ll never have your party back.

  53. How about we stop police officers from arresting people for soliciting sex in a public bathroom, and only allow them to arrest the person when they’re actually having sex with the officer someone?

  54. Years ago I read about guys arrested for soliciting sex because they stood at urinale for long periods without urinating. I scoffed, then my prostate acted up.
    The guy’s act was akin to “Sweetie, can I buy you a drink?”

  55. “How about we stop police officers from arresting people for soliciting sex in a public bathroom, and only allow them to arrest the person when they’re actually having sex with the officer someone?”

    To [mis]paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, when Mr. Penis makes its first appearance.

  56. This whole situation has some amusing aspects:

    1) I have single heterosexual women friends in their 30s and 40s who tell me they have taken their boyfriends into women’s rooms at bars and clubs and planes and had sex with them there. Yet all the talking heads say they have never heard of such goings on.

    2) Everyone from CNN to Sean Hannity spent the day talking to gay men from Dan Savage on down yesterday. All the gay men said they of course had never had sex in a bathroom with a stranger, but they had READ about it and so they could affirm that foot tapping etc are how you do it. ROFL. I have seen men having sex or coming onto me for sex in every locker room, steam room, and shower room I have ever been in in every gym I have ever belonged to in the DC metropolitan area, from Catholic University to Georgetown University, to Sports Club LA to Washington Sports Clubs. Couldn’t they find someone who had at least had someone propose a sexual encounter in a rest room to interview?

    Second, all the talking heads, including amazingly Sean Hannity all basically said “I am shocked, SHOCKED, that men are having sex here in an area where their pants are down and their dick is in their hand.” Everyone from SEAN to Oprah just interviewed Governor McGreavey and his wife on his sucking every dick he could find along the New Jersey turnpike. Did they think he was alone? He brought his own rubber dick to stick through the glory hole and fellate?

    3) There shouldn’t be laws about public indecency. There should only be private property with rules set by the owner for its use. Then we would have fewer mashers, flashers, Nazi marchers, panhandlers, lurking pedophiles, rageful drivers, etc etc. Because private owners and private security guards are much better at ejecting trespassers than cops are.

  57. More WAshington bathroom stories. From the WSJ – July 20, 2005.

    Only a few weeks before the 1964 election, a powerful presidential assistant, Walter Jenkins, was arrested in a men’s room in Washington. Evidently, the president was concerned that Barry Goldwater would use that against him in the election. Another assistant, Bill Moyers, was tasked to direct Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater’s staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity. Mr. Moyers’ memo to the FBI was in one of the files.

    When the press reported this, I received a call in my office from Mr. Moyers. Several of my assistants were with me. He was outraged; he claimed that this was another example of the Bureau salting its files with phony CIA memos. I was taken aback. I offered to conduct an investigation, which if his contention was correct, would lead me to publicly exonerate him. There was a pause on the line and then he said, “I was very young. How will I explain this to my children?” And then he rang of

  58. It wasn’t Larry Craig’s bathroom–it was a public bathroom. Wanting to maintain some public decorum is not inconsistent with limited government. And it wasn’t like he was out in the middle of the woods or something. I hardly think Barry Goldwater would approve of sex in public facilities!

  59. A minor irritant which finally got to me. Why do you Americans always have to use obscure, childish and stupid euphemisms for perfectly ordinary things? It’s not a bathroom! It’s not a restroom! Its a toilet (a loo, a dunny, a head, a john, a pissoir if you like)! Grow up fellows. Perhaps then you will be able to handle these issues just like adults do in the rest of the world.

  60. I am intrigued by the issue of timing. This story, which could have been pushed when it happened months ago, is conveniently discovered in the same week that we find Hillary receiving $45,000 in contributions from a family that only has an income of $45,000 a year. And so her story only gets 30 seconds of coverage in any news show with no follow up and no investigation. Just as Mark Foley’s activities, which could have been a story for years, only come out timed to an election.

    I predict we will see the same kind of thing throughout this election cycle.

  61. I have a few thoughts on the matter. And please, don’t accuse me of homophobia or social conservatism because I’m a 31 year old openly gay man, and I have been out since the age of 17. I am not religious in any conventional sense and am in no way a social conservative.

    First, I think intentionally soliciting sex in any way that uses physical contact on an unwilling person constitutes sexual assault. If the physical contact is unwanted, and a person is physically touched, that should be criminally punishable. Whether it happens on public or private property is irrelevant. The exception should be private property where it is understood that physical touching is an appropriate means of proposing sex. Such private property might include sex clubs (straight, gay, mixed or etcetera), or circuit parties, etc.

    Second, my sympathy for closeted gay men who resort to these means for sex is pretty limited. I understand religious and social pressure first hand. I understand what it can be like to be socially isolated and living in an unpopulated area. But there are large numbers of out gay people, and to a person nearly all of us are willing to dedicate a lot of time and energy to helping others come out. The time for self-loathing is over. Come out of the closet, live your life in truth and with self-love, and join the good fight.

    Third, in a “second best” world where we still have public [anything] there should still be laws governing behavior in such public places. A good guide to determining what those laws should be would be what the market would permit if the public [thing] became privatized. And I seriously doubt that any private entity furnishing restrooms in what are now public places (e.g. rest stops, parks, airports) would allow for sex in the restrooms. So we could go all the way to libertopia, and still find the same prohibition on sex in restrooms. Why argue for allowing sex in bathrooms on our road to libertopia?

  62. Justin there should be no laws telling a property owner and his guests or customers how they entertain themselves. The owner should be able to say you can have sex or not, you must wera a burka or not, etc.

    So Justin, are you single?

  63. In all this, why doesn’t anyone express dismay at the fact that such behaviors as tapping feet and moving hands could be taken by police as evidence of a sex solicitation?

    Better still, wonder why the codes are necessary. If gay sex wasn’t proscribed you wouldn’t even need to troll public restrooms. You could use discreet code words like, “How ’bout we get a room.” Banning consensual activity inevitably leads to more problems than the activity itself.

    Of course there should be laws against having or soliciting sex in public bathrooms.

    Having sex, okay. But soliciting sex? Human beings solicit sex pretty much anywhere more than one of them shows up. (Yeah, even in societies where women are forced to wear burkas.) Check out the single-parents action while picking up or dropping kids off at elementary school.

  64. don’t drive perverts off the net and back into the restrooms:

    Say “No” to 2257!
    The federal government is proposing regulations that would effectively kill adult social-networking sites. This is being done under the guise of fighting child pornography. You have until September 10 to object to these regulations. It’s easy to do and essential. A sample e-mail comment is at the bottom of this page. Please forward this information to your friends!
    What’s the Deal?
    The Department of Justice is proposing regulations to implement a federal law designed to combat child pornography, known as Section 2257. The law was first enacted in 1998 and was amended in 2006 and significantly expanded to include regulation of the Internet.

    While many of the regulations pertain to companies that produce adult entertainment magazines and videos (and are extremely burdensome), they would also affect anyone who uses an adult social-networking site. Here’s how:

    The regulations would require the people running a site to get and maintain personal information from every user (that means you) who posts a “sexually explicit” photo, including your photo ID (driver’s license, passport, or military ID).
    The regulations would allow the Attorney General to conduct warrantless searches at will on the sites’ records, including your personal information.
    There are few safeguards over what the FBI can do with the information it obtains.
    If a site operator fails to comply with the regulations, he or she would face a prison sentence of up to 5 years.
    Obviously, none of this has anything to do with child pornography. Instead, it is a blatant attempt to end the ability of consenting adults to use adult social-networking sites to meet other people for sex. Obviously, if these regulations go into effect, they will kill this industry.

    What You Can Do
    The Department of Justice has published these proposed regulations and the public has until September 10 to comment on them.

    We need to generate thousands of comments objecting to the proposed regulations – and it’s easy to do via e-mail. Just follow the instructions below.

    Why We’re Involved
    The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc. is involved in this fight because we believe sexual freedom is a fundamental human right and we don’t think the government has any place in relations between consenting adults. These regulations are part of our government’s hypocritical and punitive views about sex, sexuality, and reproductive rights. All of this – from abstinence-only sex education programs to the elimination of funding for accurate and explicit HIV prevention programs – fall hardest on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

    Take Action Now
    Here is a sample letter with the e-mail address you need to send it to (Admin.ceos@usdoj.gov) and the subject you must include in the subject line of your e-mail (Section 2257 Docket No. CRM 104).

    Sample Letter

    To: Admin.ceos@usdoj.gov
    Re: Section 2257 Docket No. CRM 104

    To the U.S. Department of Justice:

    I am writing to object to the proposed “Section 2257” regulations.

    These regulations are complicated and burdensome on legitimate businesses, and have very little to do with protecting children and minors from pornography. Their reach – particularly into adult social-networking internet services – is overbroad, unnecessary, and would allow the federal government to search and seize personal records of adult consumers without a warrant; a clear violation privacy and constitutional rights.

    Specifically, I object to the following provisions:

    1. The regulations (18 ? 2257(b)(1) and (c)) would force adult social-networking services to obtain and maintain personal information about their users, including the user’s photo ID (driver’s license, passport, or military ID). (I must note that the sites already require users to affirm that they are over 18 years of age.) Many sites have tens of thousands of users and it is simply not possible for them to do this. Moreover, many people who use these sites want to maintain their privacy, for any number of reasons, including the sad fact that they might face discrimination and/or violence if others found out they were using these sites. It is still legal in 31 states to discriminate against someone who is gay or bisexual, and in 41 states if the person is transgender. The combination of the recordkeeping requirements and many users’ fears about providing such information will kill the entire industry.

    All of this is overkill given that adult social networking sites were not identified as a problem in the production, distribution and downloading of child pornography in the Department of Justice’s own report on “Child Pornography on the Internet” (May 2006).

    2. The regulations (18 ? 2257(g) and under 28 C.F.R. ? 75.5) would allow the Attorney General to conduct unannounced warrantless searches at will on the sites’ records, including reviewing and presumably seizing the personal information on site users. This is an egregious abuse of government authority, an unwarranted invasion of privacy and, in my opinion, a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

    3. The regulations (28 C.F.R. ? 75.5(4)) provide insufficient safeguards over what the government can do with the information it obtains through its searches. This, by itself, has a chilling effect on the ability of people to engage in constitutionally protected activities. As noted above, this is particularly dangerous for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

    Let me be clear: I believe children need to be protected from coercion into pornography and it is important for the federal government to do all that it can to insure those protections. Sadly, many of the provisions of the proposed 2257 regulations do nothing to address child pornography, but instead are clearly aiming at destroying an industry and ending a legal and valuable way for adults to meet one another.

    Sincerely,

    (your name)

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