In the latest attack on civil liberties, San Franciscans are being forced to put their clothes on when they go outside — enraging local nudist activists.
City lawmakers are scheduled to vote today on a measure that will make it a crime for any person over the age of 5 to parade around in public au naturale. (Though there is an amendment that says exemptions can be made for parades and festivals that are held with a valid city permit.)
Activists are not taking this lying down. They filed a federal lawsuit against the city to block the vote. The nudist groups say they need more time to put their case forward about how great it is to be naked in public.
Mitch Hightower, one of the plaintiffs, is known in the Bay-Area the organizer of the "Nude In" protests of the last few years. The lawsuit reads in part:
The ‘Nude In’ is intended to promote a spirit of tolerance, peace and fellowship among the attendees, claiming that if enacted, the ordinance would violate the constitutional right of free speech. It attempts to criminalize nudity even when engaged in for the purpose of political advocacy.
George Davis was the "nude" candidate in both the mayoral race of 2007 and District 6 supervisor race in 2010. He is also listed among the plaintiffs. His claim is that he uses nudity "as part of his political expression."
The measure is sponsored by city supervisor Scott Weiner, who told NBC Bay-Area:
I don't think having some guys taking their clothes off and hanging out seven days a week at Castro and Market Street is really what San Francisco is about. I think it's a caricature of what San Francisco is about.
Under the proposed law, first-time nudists would receive a fine of $100. If within the next 12 months you step outside in your birthday suit you get hit with a $200 fine. In the true California-style "three strikes" law, a third offense faces a misdemeanor charge and $500 fine with the possibility of jail time.