torch of liberty
Society for Sacred Sexuality
lady liberty liberty rainbow Beyond sexual freedom... spiritual symbols to Spiritual Liberation

NOTE: The following letter has been edited to reflect current terminology used by the Society for Sacred Sexuality. Specifically, the general term 'sacred sex' replaces a particular sacred sex teaching named in the original. These edits are indicated by [brackets].

Letter from the
in response to the
Society for Sacred Sexuality's legal inquiry

1400 20th St., NW, Ste. 119
Washington, D.C. 20036-5920
June 22, 2004

Mr. Gary Joseph
[contact info removed for privacy]

Dear Mr. Joseph:

We received your request for assistance in changing statutes regulating sexual conduct to distinguish teaching and practicing [sacred sex], an "ancient spiritual practice," that may include sexual conduct, from unlawful commercial exchanges of sex for money. You also hoped to establish for [sacred sex] teachers a novel "right to financial remuneration." We regret we are not able to offer you legal help.

As you may know, ACLU is a private nonprofit organization entirely supported by members and contributions. ACLU exists to preserve and extend the rights and privileges found mainly in the Bill of Rights. These include the freedoms of speech, press, and religion; the right to be free of illegal discrimination; and the right to be free of abusive police conduct. We can take only a few cases each year, since each must be done by a volunteer attorney in private practice who contributes the time necessary. Thus in our legal work with some exceptions we concentrate on "test cases" that raise an unusual or unsettled question of civil liberties, where our participation can help a large group of people if we can establish better principles of law.

ACLU affiliates do sometimes take legislative positions but you didn't identify any pending item in the D.C. Council or suburban Maryland County Councils for us to consider. Affiliates do not take action directly on matters in Congress or major policy in the federal executive branch; policy for the organization nationwide is set by the national board and carried out through a national legislative office elsewhere in D.C. Each affiliate chooses its own legislative agenda. ACLU affiliates take legal cases where clear facts suggest existing law is not sufficiently protective of fundamental rights, but you didn't identify a particular case or controversy that brings you before a court and on which you need representation. Note that it is a complex matter of legal doctrine just how the courts should balance (1) the undoubted power of legislatures to pass laws of general effect (taxing, zoning, licensing, etc.) with (2) the fact that such laws may also place some incidental burden on the exercise of religion. The history of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (that the ACLU supported but which was struck down by the Supreme Court) is pertinent. We also couldn't grasp your suggestion that "the American people should decide" the merits of [sacred sex], not legislative bodies. Isn't the major way that the people speak in fact through elected legislators? Perhaps you had in mind some initiative or referendum process to do for [sacred sex] what elected officials may not want to do? Good luck.


[signed, name withheld for privacy]

Staff Attorney

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