Matt Foreman

Government should not be prying into and punishing relationships between consenting adults

Filed By Matt Foreman | October 25, 2007 11:24 AM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: legal news, NGLTF, pornography, sex, social networking, task force

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., applauds yesterday’s 3–0 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit striking down a federal statute commonly known as “Section 2257” because its extensive regulation of visual depictions of adult sexual activity imposes an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

In a reaffirmation that “[a]dult sexual conduct . . . is in fact constitutionally protected,” the court held that Section 2257 far overreaches the federal government’s goal of preventing child pornography. The court held that the First Amendment free expression rights implicated by Section 2257’s restrictions are so fundamental, and the restrictions and penalties imposed so severe, that they outweigh the government’s purported interest in preventing child pornography.

The Department of Justice recently proposed regulations to implement Section 2257, which would have effectively ended adult social networking Internet sites. The Task Force, Inc., set up an online action center informing the community of the threat and urging people to file formal objections to the regulations. The online action center was viewed by visitors more than 85,000 times, and the Department of Justice received thousands of objections as a result.

This welcome court decision affirms that the government should not be prying into and punishing relationships between consenting adults under the guise of fighting child pornography. Section 2257 and the regulations proposed 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 — disproportionately impact lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

We applaud the Free Speech Coalition for its work in combating this onerous and dangerous statute. We thank the thousands of members of our community who said ‘no’ to this assault on civil liberties by filing formal objections with the Department of Justice.

Background on Section 2257

Under the auspices of combating child pornography, Section 2257 imposes expansive record-keeping requirements on visual representations of adult sexual activity. Among other restrictions, it requires that detailed personal identification information be affixed to all photographs and videos; that the identifying information be maintained by both the picture-takers an any entity publishing the pictures, such as social networking sites; and that the government be allowed to enter the premises where the records are kept at least once every four months to inspect them. Violations are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison with a maximum of 10 years for a second offense.

Connection Distributing, a publisher of adult social networking magazines, and plaintiffs who wished to publish photographs in Connection’s magazines anonymously, and without having to create or maintain the extensive records required by Section 2257, challenged the law.

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Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | October 25, 2007 2:16 PM

Yay, a victory!!!

Gotta celebrate them as they come.

Actually, this is really great. The internet has been such a lifeline for me growing up in a town where I didn't think anyone else was gay because I didn't see them around me.

It kinda makes you wonder if this was just about us or if this was just to punish all sex, but either way, we won. Good work to everyone who helped out with this.

Sounds good...When is it ethical to use government to restrict the freedom of others?

I suppose that y'all also oppose trade restrictions, mandatory licensing in labor markets, minimum wages, mandated benefits, price supports, etc. Glad to hear that you're on board with some key economic reforms!

I agree. This is a great victory. I know the internet was an invaluable resource for me as I was coming out in a conservative area...

And kudos to Matt and the Task Force. They do such great work on so many issues!

I can see the headlines already...

Sodomite judge ok's pedophilia!

I can't really understand how adult sexual activity=pedophilia.

Evil series of tubes!

Thank you, NLGTF!