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Ruh-Roh! Nudists 'Force' Cancellation of Dem Committee Meeting

But don't worry: nude protests are planned for City Hall on Friday

Ruh-Roh! Nudists 'Force' Cancellation of Dem Committee Meeting

SAN FRANCISCO—Remember SF Supervisor Scott Wiener's silly-ass anti-nudity ordinance that would prohibit nudity on all city sidewalks, streets, plazas, "parklets" and on public transportation? Well, the Board of Supervisors passed it on November 20 by a vote of 6-5, and if it passes a second reading scheduled for December 4 and Mayor Ed Lee signs it into law, those who disrobe in public would face graduated penalties ranging from a $100 fine for the first offense up to a $500 fine and a year in prison for the third (or higher) offense.

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Of course, Wiener claims he doesn't actually have a problem with public nudity except that, according to San Francisco Chronicle reporter Neal J. Riley, "the issue has evolved beyond the presence of a few naked guys in the Castro and is a growing problem that generates more complaints from [Wiener's] constituents than homelessness or Muni [the Municipal Transportation Agency]."

"It's no longer a quirky part of San Francisco; it's seven days a week," said Wiener, who represents the Castro, a heavily gay-identified district that's host to several annual street events—from which, interestingly, nudity will not be banned. "Many people in the neighborhoods are over it and want to take action."

Indeed; some people have taken action, though not the kind Wiener had in mind. For instance, as the Supervisors were voting on the measure, five men and women rose in the chamber and took off their clothes in protest. Sheriff's deputies immediately shuttled the group out of the chamber, but no arrests were made.

"It's telling people they should be ashamed to be naked, and that's totally wrong," said Stardust, one of the nudists.

And indeed, a group of nudists led by Gypsy Taub have filed a lawsuit to overturn the law, and at a scheduled hearing on January 17, a federal judge could issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the law from taking effect.

Of course, the nudity supporters are hoping that one of the supervisors could change his or her mind before the bill's second reading, thus obviating the need for the hearing (or the lawsuit), and there are good reasons to doubt the constitutionality of the law on First and Ninth Amendment grounds as a restraint on protected speech, or as nudity being one of the unenumerated rights the Constitution protects.

Several supervisors agreed, with Supervisor Christina Olague terming it "a solution looking for a problem," adding, "The media loves issues like nudity, but when we've got people dying on the streets... when it comes to priorities, this seems absurd to me."

Supervisor David Campos, who argued that the new law would be a waste of police manpower, put it simply: "I will not put on this fig leaf. I vote 'no.'"

But Taub is undaunted by the supervisors' vote, and as a follow-up to the nude protest outside City Hall on November 20, she's planning yet another "nude-in" and march to the City Hall steps on Friday, November 30—or in case of rain, a rally at the Center for Sex and Culture at 1349 Mission Street.

"According to the Zogby poll conducted by the Naturist Action Committee, 63 percent of San Franciscans are OK with public nudity," Taub wrote in a press release. "The majority of the citizens who attended the November 5th Committee Hearing were against the nudity ban. The majority of emails send to the Supervisors by the public were against the ban... The people of San Francisco are outraged by this blatantly undemocratic, and most likely, unconstitutional decision by the Board of Supervisors. Nudist activists are committed to defeating the Wiener Bill no matter what it takes."

Taub was also planning to take her band of nudists to a meeting of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which had been scheduled for tonight (November 28), but apparently after reading of the plans in an article in the San Francisco Examiner, the DCCC called off the meeting, and it's unclear when the group might reconvene.

"Was that a coincidence? Or did Wiener and his supporters get scared?" Taub asked. "It's a shame because we were really looking forward to expressing ourselves at that meeting! Wiener is such a party pooper!"

"But, don't worry," she added. "We will catch up with you at the next meeting you go to, Wiener! Or maybe you should just stay home from now on?"

Maybe he should; at least there, he can be as nude as he wants.






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Mark Kernes

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