State senator seeks Mo. health dept, attorney general review of sex event

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP)--A state senator has introduced a resolution calling for the Missouri department of health and attorney general to investigate the safety and legality of sex-oriented events such as a "Beat Me in St. Louis" conference April 26-28 at a Howard Johnson facility near Lambert Airport.

State Sen. John Loudon, R-Ballwin and a member of Ballwin Baptist Church, introduced the resolution April 23 in response to the sadomasochism conference, which prompted the Southern Baptist Convention to drop the hotel from its block of rooms for the SBC's June 11-12 annual meeting in St. Louis.

Loudon, speaking across the street from the Howard Johnson's facility April 21, described the "Beat Me in St. Louis" event as "absolutely dangerous," the Associated Press reported.

Loudon's resolution notes:

-- the "Beat Me in St. Louis" event promises, according to promotions by its sponsoring organization, St. Louis Leather and Lace, to include "dungeon parties" with "flogging and cutting" for which a "tarp or drop cloth" may be needed for "messy blood scenes and other bodily fluids."

-- "sadomasochist behavior of this kind," the resolution states, "spreads disease."

-- "engaging in deviant sexual behavior and experimentation is widely recognized by experts to lead to more extreme behavior, particularly the victimization of women and children who are not 'consenting.'"

-- "by allowing the 'Beat Me in St. Louis' gathering to be held at their hotel, the Howard Johnson hoteliers are contributing to the overall risk to the health and welfare of their other patrons and the public." The resolution reminded that Howard Johnson Hotels "hold themselves out to be a 'family oriented' hotel chain and encourage families to use their facilities for family vacations." If passed, "a properly inscribed copy of this resolution" is to be sent to Howard Johnson hotels.

The Associated Press, in an April 22 story about Loudon's resolution, quoted a spokeswoman for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom Foundation, Susan Wright, as saying that critics should lighten up and mind their own business, as the AP paraphrased it, and stop "using scare tactics and lies," Wright said, "to impose their beliefs on everyone else."

"Conventions exactly like this are held every weekend in communities throughout the country. They're your neighbors and co-workers," said Wright, whose organization depicts itself as providing help in conducting sex seminars safely and legally.

The SBC Executive Committee's vice president of business and finance and convention manager, Jack Wilkerson, informed hotel officials of the convention's decision to cancel its rooms at the Howard Johnson in an April 4 letter.

"It is extremely unfortunate that your hotel and parent corporation has chosen this departure, which is a direct attack on the fabric of traditional family values and the Biblical heritage of our denomination and its churches," Wilkerson wrote.

More than 4,000 hotel rooms have been blocked for messengers and guests attending the St. Louis meeting, and Wilkerson assured Southern Baptists who made reservations at the Howard Johnson would be assisted in finding alternative housing.

Liz Ryan Sax, a media relations manager for Howard Johnson's parent company, Cendant Corporation, told that HoJo's guests are a top concern but that Cendant doesn't own any of the Howard Johnson locations, but just franchises them.

When individual HoJo locations enter into a franchise agreement, there are "standards and stipulations" set by Cendant to which the hotels must adhere, Sax said. However, she said, "The way that we see it is that as long as they [Howard Johnson St. Louis Airport] are adhering to their local government ... they're the best judge of how their town should conduct business."

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