NH House Committee Votes 18-0 to Kill Proposed Ban on Female Toplessness
Sparked by last year's "Free the Nipple" protests, some prudish state representatives filed legislation that would make it a misdemeanor for women to be topless anywhere in New Hampshire. (They did make an exception for breast-feeding.) A topless lady would be facing up to a year in jail, were this terrible legislation to pass. Men would still be allowed to be topless under the discriminatory bill, HB 1525.
Thankfully, the bill is nearly dead thanks to a unanimous vote to kill it by the NH house criminal justice committee. The committee voted today 18-0 to "ITL" (Inexpedient to Legislate) the legislation. The bill is not yet off the table - that will happen later when the full house votes on it.
Liberty rep John A. Burt put forth the motion to ITL the bill and also wrote the majority "blurb" for the house calendar along with Free State Project early mover and state representative Amanda Bouldin. (Amanda previously had made headlines for defending topless freedom from attack by the prudish reps who proposed the topless ban.) Here's the text of Burt and Bouldin's blurb:
This bill expands the indecent exposure law to include the anus (regardless of gender) as well as the nipple and areola (only if female). The committee heard testimony from many who warned that, due to likely acts of civil disobedience, the state would face expensive court fees should this become law. The NHCLU testified that violation of such a law could be considered protected political speech, indicating that the state would be unsuccessful in litigation.
The committee sees no sense in passing a law that cannot be enforced. The committee also believes that this bill violates Art. 2 of the State Constitution, which states that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of race, creed, color, sex or national origin.” This bill attempts to apply a law to women only. This bill would also place police officers in the uncomfortable position of having to determine the gender of a potential offender. Lastly, an offender (if convicted) would be listed in the state’s sex offender registry after a second conviction, which many considered to be an excessive punishment.
In a state with a nippy average temperature of only 46 degrees, the risk of rampant nudity seems rather low. The committee considers this legislation inexpedient to legislate for these reasons.