A New Jersey court case involved a woman who was staging an explicit protest designed to restore the right for a woman to go topless at a historically nude beach.
The relatively secluded beach near the Delaware border was traditionally topless
until the passage and enforcement of an ordinance by a nearby municipality, which banned persons from appearing in a state of nudity or in an indecent or lewd dress or garment, or to make any indecent or unnecessary exposure of his or her person.
The woman and her husband were both on the beach wearing swimsuit bottoms but no tops. The woman was cited and fined $500. Her husband was not.
The woman appealed the citation on the basis of four arguments:
The ordinance was unconstitutionally vague (What is nudity? What is indecent?)
The ordinance denies equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment (Why are only women's breasts indecent?)
The ordinance denies equal protection under
the New Jersey State Constitution (Does the public's interest in covering my breasts really outweigh my right to uncover them?)
The beach's historical tradition as a nude sunbathing site should be protected under the public trust doctrine. (If the beaches belong to all of us, we should be free to enjoy them as we choose.)
The New Jersey Superior Court denied the appeal on all four grounds.
Of particular interest is the Court's rationale in denying points 2 and 3. In denying that the ordinance violated the Equal Protection Clause, the Court invoked the
important governmental interest in safeguarding the public's moral sensibilities, which in this case are based on an indisputable difference between the sexes and the fact that society considered females baring their breasts in public . . .
With respect to equal protection under the State Constitution, the Court found that a woman's right to appear topless in public is not central to the ordinary person's life enjoyment or liberty, and is outweighed by they
government's legitimate need to protect the public from unwelcome exposure to nudity.
The Santa Fe City Council has unanimously approved a rewrite of its indecency ordinance.
Mayor David Coss and Councilors Matthew Ortiz, Ronald Trujillo and Carmichael Dominguez introduced the ordinance to prevent a repeat of an event last June
that was part of the World Naked Bike Ride. The new law largely mirrors Albuquerque's ordinance, which had led protest organizers from Albuquerque to hold their event in Santa Fe.
The new law replaces the existing ordinance, which only outlawed
women from going topless in places where alcohol is served or if they were engaged in lewd behavior.
The new law specifically bans men or women from exposing their buttocks or genitalia.
Artist Tamara Lichtenstein, who opposed the
change, wore a two-piece bathing suit under a black robe and skeletal mask and briefly exposed her backside to the councilors, prompting some groans as well as laughter from onlookers.
Lichtenstein said that because her normal bathing suit exposed her hips, it might be considered illegal under the rewritten ordinance:
The burden of living in a diverse democracy with freedom of expression and not in a theocracy is that we are practically guaranteed to be exposed to expressive speech and actions that we don't like, and even things that deeply offend us, she said.
If we all agree that no one was ever offended, we wouldn't need a First Amendment.
Gilbert Pino, a board member of the New Mexico Catholic Coalition, found nothing funny about the demonstration. Some of the people in the audience believe
it's a laughing matter, he said. I don't. I'm very serious about it. ... All my life, Santa Fe has been the city of the holy faith. Of recent times, it's sad to say that were not the same city we were.
Raymond Joggerst questioned
whether the ordinance would apply to his 14-month-old daughter who pulls up her shirt just because she thinks it's funny.
Marcos Martinez, the assistant city attorney who drafted the ordinance, said it does not designate an age at which
someone is subject to the restrictions. He said the state Court of Appeals upheld the Albuquerque ordinance, finding that its provision banning toplessness for women, but not for men, did not discriminate against women. Two similar laws in Indiana and
Pennsylvania have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.
In the town of Federal Way, Washington State, officials are considering changes to the public morals code in order to stop the spread of bikini baristas , women who serve espresso while scantily clad.
If approved, the amendment will
classify indecent exposure as a misdemeanor offense. It will prohibit a person from intentionally exposing any part of the genitals or pubic area, parts of the buttocks, the areola, nipple, or more than half of the breast area located below the top of
the areola in public. Streets, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, automobiles (whether moving or not) and businesses open to the public, including those containing a drive-through window, are considered public places.
The amendment would address
risque attire, such as pasties, associated with bikini baristas. Body paint or dye, tattoos, latex, tape or similar substances applied to the skin to mask any of the above anatomical areas will not be permitted in public. Substances that can be washed
off the skin and those designed to stimulate the regions would be banned as well.
The arguments against this amendment are seemingly endless. It's simply stupid legislation, a knee-jerk reaction to what is perceived as a problem, but is really
just overreaction to harmless human activity. By specifically targeting women, the proposed law is clearly unconstitutional, and will undoubtedly be challenged in court if it manages to pass.
Locking up women for showing a breast in public is not
going to solve any of society's problems. Defining the parts of human anatomy which are unacceptable for public viewing is not going to stop the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases, halt teenage pregnancies, or lower the divorce rate. It's just more
examples of impotent government unable to solve real problems, running around shooting straw men and flailing at windmills in order to present to an uninformed and fearful public an illusion of competence.
Indiana's Court of Appeals has ruled that a women's bare breasts do NOT have equal protection under the US Constitution.
This is the opposite of how the New York Supreme court ruled in 1992 where a judge said One of the most important purposes
to be served by the equal protection clause is to ensure that 'public sensibilities' grounded in prejudice and unexamined sterotypes do not become enshrined as part of the official policy of government.
A 16-year-old girl accused of exposing
her breasts on an Indianapolis street can't argue that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives her the freedom to do it. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled against the girl's claim that Indiana's nudity law violated the 14th Amendment's equal
The girl's attorney said Indiana's nudity law was unfair because it covers the nipples of women, but not men.
The appeals court says the citizens of Indiana have spoken on the issue through their elected representatives.
Last Sunday afternoon, two dozen women and their supporters converged on Venice Beach, California, for a very unusual demonstration. All the women were topless – while the men sported bikini tops.
The march was organised by GoTopless, a US
campaign for women to have the same constitutional right to be bare-chested in public places as men. Its members are committed to helping women perceive their breasts as noble, natural parts of their anatomy , and the demonstration had been
organised for late August apparently not just because of the hot weather, but to make a feminist point. Campaigners noted that it was in August 1920 that women in the US were given the right to vote, and even in the 21st century, women need to stand
up and demand that equality in fact – not just in words .
US soul singer Erykah Badu has paid a $500 (£322) fine and will serve six months' probation for stripping naked on a Dallas street for a music video.
She ended filming by re-enacting the moment when President John F Kennedy was shot dead in
1963 in the city.
The singer was charged with disorderly conduct when a few tourists complained.
In March, the star performed a walking striptease as part of the video for Window Seat , before falling to the ground as if she has been
shot. The filming took place at Dealey Plaza, the location where President Kennedy was assassinated.
Boulder nudists, naked pumpkin runners, nude bikers and others who want to disrobe in public can now be ticketed by police for violating a city law that bans public nudity.
In a 6-3 vote, the Boulder City Council approved a proposal to extend the
city's anti-nudity laws and give police a new charge to ticket under.
The new municipal code makes it illegal for people over the age of 10 to show their genitals in public or on private property where it's obvious to passersby. It does not ban
women from going topless in public.
Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner and District Attorney Stan Garnett both support the measure and told the council they need an alternative to stricter state laws for situations such as streaking, the annual
Naked Pumpkin Run or the World Naked Bike Ride.
The council decided to enact the rules immediately, rather than wait for a bill being considered at the Colorado statehouse to move forward.
House Bill 1334 gained approval by the state House
of Representatives last week. The bill would change the penalties and definitions for several offenses involving public nudity, which some council members argued would do essentially the same thing as Boulder's ordinance.
But others, including
Garnett, said the state law is too strong in that it requires anyone convicted of more than one instance of public indecency to register as a sex offender.
The town of Boulder in Colorado gets all het up by the streakers of the annual Pumpkin Run on Halloween.
A public-nudity law is now being considered by the Boulder City Council would expand the definition of being naked to include exposing the
female nipple, and it would make it a municipal offense to be naked in public places or view.
After years of debate about how to deal with people who streak as a prank or participate in events like the annual World Naked Bike Ride and the
Halloween night Naked Pumpkin Run, Boulder is now seeking to expand the ban on public nudity to the entire city, while also expanding its definition of nudity.
The Public Nudity Prohibited ordinance would apply to anyone older than 10 who
exposes any portion of his or her private parts, including the areola of a female breast. Tickets would carry a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail.
The rules would not apply to people who enjoy going au naturale inside their own homes
-- so long as it's not obvious to passers-by -- or sunbathers in backyards. Women who are breastfeeding in public would also be exempt, along with people in dressing rooms, shower rooms, bathrooms or other enclosed areas where nudity is permitted.
Judd Golden, chairman of the Boulder County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, disagreed and said that the law would go too far: They are deciding that anyone who is in a state of undress must be committing a crime . He said people who
are naked for some sort of sexual purpose, such as exposing themselves to children, are committing a crime that's already covered under state laws. Other people, like streakers who run across sports fields, people who ride bicycles naked or run nude on
Halloween, should be arrested or ticketed based on their behavior -- not because of a lack of clothing, Golden said: Let's look at the actual conduct and decide if there is a public interest in criminalizing that or no. This non-sexual
prankster stuff shouldn't be against the law.
The annual Hallowe'en Nude Pumpkin Run in Boulder, Colorado, was called off this year because participants feared being labeled sex offenders.
For the last decade, dozens of men and women have taken part in the stunt, in which naked people
run around the main streets of Boulder, Colorado wearing nothing but pumpkins on their heads.
But this year, 100 police officers were stationed around the town and members of the public were warned they faced arrest and charges of indecent
exposure if they participated in the run. If convicted, that could lead to them being placed on the sex offenders register.
Bouder police chief Mark Beckner said the event had gotten out of hand and had become a "free-for-all", so he
decided to stop it.
The American Civil Liberties Union accused police of violating naked runners' constitutional rights.
On its website, the group running the event, warned that violation of the Western societal more, enforced by law,
of unclothed public exposure can indeed land you legal consequences. Furthermore, the decision to participate is yours and yours alone.
On Saturday evening, as Hallowe'en festivities unfolded in Boulder there was no sign of naked pumpkin
runners and only one arrest was made.