If you were planning on hosting a swingers’ party anytime soon, be warned of an important new development: a federal judge has just ruled that unless swingers’ parties advocate for a certain lifestyle or feature a performance element, they’re not protected by the first amendment. And if you’re throwing the party, you’d better be involved, because the right to charge people for tickets to a sex party isn’t guaranteed either, unless you’re participating.
The ruling came down in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, a hamlet of 12,000 that boasts a cafe, an airport, and The New England Air Museum. It also boasts a hotel called The Beverly Hills Suites that’s apparently been the site of all the town’s evildoing. From 2007-2010, the hotel was home to sex parties and hip-hop concerts. And when the hotel landed in hot water with the town and ended up out of business, the owner, Sharok Jacobi, sued Windsor Locks, accusing the town’s police force of targeting the hotel and its customers—young people, many of whom are “African-American and Hispanic,” according to The Washington Post. Unfortunately, the judge didn’t see it that way.
Here’s just a taste of what was going down at The Beverly Hills Suites,
He [Judge Michael P. Shea] noted that the hotel was the scene of fights, throwing bottles, large crowds, fire-code violations, liquor license violations and a shooting; that one party “was organized by a group known as Hot Couples”; that one man complained he and his children could see naked people from a cafe across the street from the Beverly Hills Suites; and that an undercover officer witnessed “oral sex acts in the barroom,” among other lewd acts, while a photographer snapped pictures.
Shea ruled for the town without a trial and pointed out that while the hotel was sanctioned for the behavior of its guests at the sex parties, that shutting the whole thing down didn’t actually prevent advocacy of the swinging lifestyle (because of the internet and other commercial means). And, because the hotel wasn’t actually for swingers and was just hosting the event for a fee, the First Amendment didn’t protect the property from being subject to fines and other penalties for what’s considered unlawful public behavior. Furthermore, being nude, according to Shea, is not “inherently expressive,” nor is sex, unless there’s something more than just the act happening. And that’s got to be a demonstration or something, just putting on a Marvin Gaye CD and turning down the lights won’t cut it if you want your shindig to be protected by the Constitution.
“The [Hot Couples] swingers’ event involved no stage or performance aspect … and it was not accompanied by any advocacy of a particular lifestyle,” the judge wrote. “Thus, it is not protected by the First Amendment for the same reasons that prostitution is not so protected.”
While it’s not clear how many people participated in the parties and concerts or how bad the partying got, the owner’s lawyer had this to say in 2008 when the The Beverly Hills Suites first started receiving complaints: “Windsor Locks must be the most crime free place in the United States if the police have time to arrest people in a private setting for having relations with each other.”
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