Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nude-In on City Hall Steps, Friday at Noon

There are two significant blots of shame on San Francisco's pro-gay and liberal reputation, and they're based on the same fears and prejudice.

We have a ban on gay bathhouses because politicians, alarmist health officials and squeamish gay leaders in the 1980s, at the height of AIDS hysteria, said gay men couldn't be trusted to engage in safe sexual practices behind closed doors. Decades later, we have a new ban, this one prohibiting all persons but mainly gay men, from being nude in the streets.

Prudes and ambitious politicians don't want us gathering naked in private commercial spaces with doors, nor will they allow us to congregate on the public streets balls and busts blowing in the wind.

I'm so pleased to promote an action at the end of the week, organized by several of my nudist friends, to challenge the nudity ban. Mitch Hightower, nudist organizer who is a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit filed by civil rights attorney Christina DiEdoardo challenging the ban, has created a Facebook page about the action and shares these details:

Protest Info: Nudity Ban Protest
Friday, Mar 22
12:00p to 1:00p
San Francisco City Hall

Join a group of activists for a noon-time demonstration on the Polk Steps at San Francisco City Hall. We are protesting the nudity ban and the illegal arrests of nude activists by the SFPD. This protest is a city permitted demonstration. As long as you remain on the steps the SFPD has no jurisdiction to cite or arrest you. The Sheriff's Department has already stated publicly that deputies will not cite nude people exercising their First Amendment Rights at this protest. 

A press release from Hightower and other plaintiffs provides info about their filing an amendment to their lawsuit:

"The City has wasted no time to repeatedly and illegally arrest my clients in violation of both the Ordinance's plain language and the provisions of the California Penal Code," said DiEdoardo. 

Violation of the ordinance is supposed to be treated as an infraction. Under California Penal Code section 853.5(a), a police officer is required to offer an individual who is charged with an infraction and who can prove their identity the chance to sign the citation and promise to appear at a later hearing. If the person does that, they cannot be arrested. 

However, the City and SFPD have repeatedly ignored these requirements at a Feb. 1, 2013 demonstration at City Hall as well as a February 27, 2013 dance performance in the Castro. 

"Since the plain language of the Ordinance and the Penal Code are apparently insufficient to compel the City and the SFPD to live up to their responsibilities, we have asked the Hon. Edward M. Chen to issue a temporary restraining order compelling the SFPD to cease these illegal arrests," said DiEdoardo. 

I not only support the nudists in their legal fight and wish I could attend their nude-in on Friday, I also propose the lifting of the ban against bathhouses for gay adults in San Francisco. Thank you, nudists, for keeping our city fabulously weird and unique!

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