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San Francisco folks may soon no longer 'let it all hang out'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 21st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Public nudity has long been an unexpected surprise for many tourists to San Francisco. A part of its hippie, free-wheeling past, and people could encounter men and women walking around in the altogether as if the city was one gigantic nudist colony. This writer remembers the time he saw a group of 100 bicyclists, all naked, coming out of a nearby park. The event marked a protest of the city's bicycle helmet laws. Such sights will become rarer there, as city officials in the Baghdad by the Bay are moving to put the kibosh on public nudity. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The San Francisco Board of Supervisors in a narrow vote of six to five have voted in favor of an ordinance that prohibits exposed genitals in most public places. This includes all streets, sidewalks, busses and subways.

There are exemptions. Public nudity will still be permitted at street fairs and parades, such as the city's annual gay pride event. Another local tradition, the Bay-to-Breakers street run also draws contestants in various states of un-dress.

Pun not intended -- Supervisor Scott Wiener - had introduced the ban in response to continued complaints about men whose public nudity is on constant public display in the city's predominantly gay Castro District. Weiner said he finally felt compelled to act.

"It's no longer an occasionally and quirky part of San Francisco. Rather, in the Castro, it's pretty much seven days a week," Wiener said. "It's very much a, `Hey, look what I have' mentality," Wiener says.

Supervisor John Avalos voiced a dissenting opinion. "We are a beacon of light to other parts of the country, and sometimes there is a little bit of weirdness about how we express ourselves," Avalos said.

Wiener's decision was highly unpopular with some parts of the San Francisco community. Gypsy Taub, a nudist activist who had organized protests-in-the-buff and marches in the weeks leading up to the ruling, doffed her duds before sheriff's deputies escorted her from the room.

A first offense for wearing nothing but the wind will carry a maximum penalty of a $100 fine. Prosecutors would have authority to charge a third violation as a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine and a year in jail. The law still must pass a final vote with Mayor Edwin Lee's signature to go into effect early next year.

A federal lawsuit seeking to block the ban already has been filed.


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