Nudists lost their battle at City Hall Tuesday when the board of supervisors passed a measure banning public nudity. So, being naked in public will soon be against the law unless a federal judge steps in. There is still one more vote to go and that second vote, usually a formality, comes on December 4.
The supervisors did vote to approve the ban sponsored by Supervisor Scott Wiener, but it wasn't a slam dunk.
"But we do live in a time of limited resources and when it comes to what is the best and most effective way of using those limited resources, not that enforcing nudity laws is not important, but on the scale of how important it is relative to violent crime, I think that the focus should be violent crime," Supervisor David Campos argued.
"When we start to surrender some of these basic rights city-wide, what's next? A lot of people think that that's cliché, but I do ask that question. Piercing? Tattooing? Or yellow hair? What?" Supervisor Christina Olague questioned.
"We're a city that believes in freedom and we've always believed in freedom and free expression, but taking your pants off at Castro and Market, and displaying your genitals to everyone, that's not free expression," Supervisor Scott Wiener said.
When the measured passed, pandemonium broke out. It's already against the law to get naked in the City Hall chambers but one after the other, several people stripped down to protest. "I would not have gotten naked at City Hall if they hadn't tried to ban nudity," a man who goes by Stardust told ABC7 News. "It's a wonderful form of free expression."
Nudists have already filed a lawsuit charging that the ban violates their First Amendment rights. "Is the First Amendment more powerful and more important than the passions of an intolerant mob and the ambitions of one or more city supervisors?" asked attorney for the nudists Christina Diedoardo. "We would contend that it is and that is what our case is based upon."
"For exhibitionists, I think that's what the word is, expressed that way, it's different from, I think, people's First Amendment rights," Mayor Ed Lee told ABC7 News voicing his support for the so-called Wiener Bill.
People can still get naked at the Folsom Street Fair, at Bay to Breakers, and other permitted events but barring a court ruling, beginning February 1, they cannot get naked in public places. Violators will face fines starting at $100.