Alabama Supreme Court upholds sex toy ban - Love Stuff plans to keep selling them
MONTGOMERY - The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday upheld the state's ban on the sale of sex toys, but Love Stuff, the Hoover store that filed the challenge, has no plans to stop selling the devices.
While people have the right to use the devices in private, the Legislature has the right to ban public distribution of those products, the court majority ruled in a 7-2 decision.
Love Stuff had asked the court to strike down the 1998 law, arguing that the ban violated a person's right to sexual privacy. The court upheld the law, saying public morality was a legal reason to regulate sales.
"Public morality can still serve as a legitimate rational basis for regulating commercial activity, which is not a private activity," Associate Justice Michael F. Bolin wrote in the majority opinion.
The judges cited an opinion from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta that also upheld the law from a legal challenge filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"As the 11th Circuit pithily and somewhat coarsely stated: `There is nothing `private' or `consensual' about the advertising and sale of a dildo,'" the majority opinion said.
Love Stuff attorney Amy L. Herring said the store is reviewing its options. That may include an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, because appellate circuits have decided the legal issues differently, Herring said.
"It's been an issue in the Southeast because no one else has a problem with this," Herring said.
Regardless, the store does not plan to close, she said.
Herring said she was pleased that two justices dissented from the majority opinion.
"In my opinion, the majority's focus is unduly narrow and ignores the burden the statute places on private sexual activity," Associate Justice Thomas A. Woodall wrote. Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb also dissented in the case.
Friday's decision came out of a 2007 case in which the city of Hoover tried to have Love Stuff shut down. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance ruled for the store, saying the state law banning an "adult-only" business from operating within 1,000 feet of homes, churches, schools and day care centers was too vague.
But Vance's ruling also rejected Love Stuff's request to declare unconstitutional the state ban on selling sex toys and other obscene material. Lawyers for Love Stuff filed an appeal, leading to Friday's state high court decision.
The law, passed in 1998, prohibits the sale of "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs." Exceptions are given for medical, scientific, educational and other purposes. Love Stuff requires customers to sign a statement declaring their purchase is for one of the listed reasons.
Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos said Friday city lawyers hadn't had a chance to decipher the lengthy Supreme Court ruling.
Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, has tried unsuccessfully to get lawmakers to repeal the law. He won the "Shroud Award" in 2003 for the deadest bill of the session for his efforts.
"They don't call it the Bible Belt for nothing," Rogers said Friday.
Rogers said the law was ridiculous and unenforceable. "What are you going to do? Stop people going into the bedrooms with them?"
Dr. Randy Brinson
Pornography destroys marriages
The Birmingham News, Thursday September 24, 2009
As a free society, we are given a priviledge to make laws that govern the conduct of our people for the explicit purpose of creating a nation, a state, a community that will uphold and encourage virtue, respect and protect individuals.
Pornography devastates men and their marriages - and is cited in many divorce cases today.
Divorce destroys children. Children of divorce are prone to divorce and to copy the habits of their parents. If the parents are using pornography, the children will be permitted/led by their parents to do so as well.
Pornography destroys women, and it isn't instinctive to women. It must be taught. I am told many of the "actresses" in those movies are strung out on drugs.
Pornography makes men selfish, uncaring and unloving as a general rule. Ask any woman about this: This is common sense.
Healthy marriagesprotect men, women and children. Our nation, our state, our community, our marriages and families should be built up and encouraged for something much higher and purer than sex toys and pornography. May God bless the Supreme Court of Alabama for taking p this issue.
Matt Waters, Birmingham
Finally the pendulum swings back to an old topic: MANHOOD.
Some elements of the men's movement have been silly--full-grown men beating on drums and howling at the moon. Some seem dangerous. Men in military fatigues playing with assault weapons are more menacing than macho. And some, sown in the fertile soil of religion, are bringing men into more spiritual relationships through rallies, marches, and conferences. The men's movement is here. It is redefining manhood. And Christian men, looking for a place to reaffirm their maleness, are finding it in the family and in the practice of fatherhood.
Fatherhood is a role that has spiritual overtones. The father/child relationship is symbolic of our relationship with God. The image is universal and primordial. And very often our feelings about our heavenly Father relate directly to our feelings about our earthly fathers.
The physiological ability to produce children does not make a father, much less a Christian father. Animals breed. When the family is not functioning properly, it may be because the father is not fulfilling his role properly. Faith sets Christian fathers apart and makes them special. And when family relationships are healthy, it may be because there is a man there who understands and practices Christian fatherhood. That is not to detract from Christian mothers who have their own roles to fulfill--some without the help or support of their male counterparts. Today's weak link, even within Christian homes, often may be the father.
Christian fatherhood has deep biblical foundations. From these roots four areas clearly emerge as pivotal to successful fatherhood.
Fathers and affection
A child starving for a father's affection may develop calluses on the heart. After many attempts to satisfy a hunger for approval, the child deprived of a father's affection may protect an aching heart with a tough skin of bitterness, aloofness, indifference, or defiance. Paternal insensitivity can make children insensitive.
Why can't we get this right? Why do we struggle so with affection? The place to start is in the relationship with our wives. A wise cleric counseled that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. An inspired apostle said, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church" (Ephesians 5:25). Love is an action word. Jesus loved us to death--his own. The action of a husband's love begins with self-sacrificing affection for his wife. Children feed off this affection that husbands show their wives. It gives children security.
Unspoken love leaves doubts. Love undemonstrated lacks substance and sincerity. Christian fathers show affection for their children. And children thrive on the affection their fathers show them in approving words, warm embraces, and genuine interest. Hugs and kisses are among the most genuine signs of affection that children understand. The relationship children have with their father strongly influences meaningful relationships with others.
Fathers and time
Much in the practice of fatherhood takes time. It takes time to repair a flat bike tire or a child's deflated spirit. It takes time to build a playhouse or a household of faith. Fathers have the same amount of time as everyone else. Yet many fathers absent themselves from nurturing responsibilities with the excuse, "I don't have time." The issue is not time; it is priorities.
Teaching especially takes time. And teaching is at the top of the priority list for good fathers.
Dads teach fun things, like how to catch a ball or carve a pumpkin. They teach by what they say or refuse to say, by what they do or refuse to do. They are expressive. They watch for growth. They listen to their children so they can understand the snags and barriers that make growing up difficult. They instruct their children about God and the Christian life of faith.
It has been chic for busy fathers to set aside quality time for their children. But children have their own way of attaching value to the minutes and hours they share together with their fathers. Good teaching occurs over a long time. Teaching moments don't restrict their appearances to an appointed instant of quality time. Children have a way of raising profound questions at the most unexpected times. Dad might be up to his elbows in paint when his son wants to know the meaning of life. He might be loading the dishwasher, changing the oil, or planting the garden when his daughter needs to talk about one of her friends who's in trouble. These are quality times without a plan. Christian fathers take the time to let them happen.
Fathers and anger
In our culture, anger is the one emotion that men have been given permission to express fully. Other appropriate feelings are available, but for many men anger is the emotion of choice. The refrigerator is empty; get mad. The car won't start; slam the hood. A child's toy is left lying on the floor; kick it out of the way. A slow moving vehicle is holding up traffic; make an obscene gesture. Your kid draws a foul; curse the referee. When some men don't know what else to be, they be mad. And for many, sadly, rage is just a heartbeat away from violence.
Many men, including the one writing this article, have said or done the things they regret most while angry. We vent our anger on the people we love the most.
Wives shouldn't have to live in fear of their husbands' reactions. Children shouldn't have to "walk on egg shells" so they won't get Dad mad. The image of a father who is constantly in confrontation with someone or something burns deep into children's memories.
A Christian man draws upon the self-control that is a fruit of the Spirit. When the Word of Christ and his forgiveness dwells richly in a father's heart, he can be firm in discipline, fair in controversy, and level-headed in a crisis; he teaches patience and urges peace and restraint in every situation.
Fathers and leadership
In a society suffering from a lack of leadership, God asks fathers to be the leaders in their homes. But the authority for such leadership doesn't come from a clenched fist or from forcefully declaring "I am the head of this house." The Christian father's authority for leading his family comes from Jesus' loving example. The godly father's affection, properly prioritized time, and self-control confidently express the love he has personally experienced in Christ's forgiveness. God's love is the platform of authority from which a Christian man leads his family.
The spiritual talk of a man of God heroically cuts through the noisy rhetoric of a misguided world. When Dad articulates God-pleasing values, he sets the tone for what membership in the family means. And what Dad preaches, he practices by leading with the power of his example.
In no other area of family life is a father's example more important than in worship. At home, children need to see their father's hands opening the Bible and folded in prayer. If he walks away from the meal without a word of thanks to God, his children will likely follow. And, if he walks into church to worship and commune, his children are apt to follow there too.
The Holy Spirit gives the gift of faith, but a father's poor example can do untold damage to flickering young faith. Christian fathers need to nurture those tiny sparks into red hot coals of living faith. But no father can share what he does not have himself. So his own continuous growth in Christ is a prerequisite for leading his family toward growth in Christ. And as he follows Jesus' leadership, the Christian father directs his family toward life and heaven.