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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Nudity ban ignites protest, fuels opposition to supervisor's seat

Natalie Mandeau stands in the front of San Francisco City Hall on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 as part of a nude protest held in response to legislation making it illegal as of Feb. 1, 2013 to be publicly nude in San Francisco. Photo by Dariel Medina / Special to Xpress

A gathering of nudists and naturists bared all at a protest against the citywide ban on public nudity at San Francisco’s City Hall on Feb. 1. In light of the situation, political nudity advocate George Davis announced his candidacy for District 8 Supervisor.

If Davis goes through with his plan to run for office, he would be going against supervisor Scott Wiener, who wrote the ordinance banning nudity. The legislation, passed Nov. 20 and finalized last December, prohibits nudity on San Francisco’s streets, sidewalks and various other public spaces. The ban went into effect Feb. 1.

“The concept of the nudity ban is that there is something wrong with the human body,” Davis said. “This campaign is to make sure political expression through nudity is recognized.”

Davis was arrested shortly after his announcement to run for political office. According to Davis, he has been cited 22 times and arrested 15 times for public nudity.

Those who choose to ignore the ban will be charged $100 for their first violation, with fines increasing with each offense. The ordinance does have exceptions, however. Public nudity has been deemed permissible for children under the age of 5 and during public events such as street fairs and parades. There is no exception for political expression.

In trying to lift the ban, public nudity activists filed a lawsuit to challenge the ordinance on the basis that the law violates the first amendment — free speech. The lawsuit was later thrown out by Judge Edward Chen, a former ACLU attorney, Jan. 29.

“The nudity ban is not a violation of the First Amendment,” District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener said. “That argument is specious, as the federal court found.”

Gypsy Taub, organizer of the protest, was one of the four individuals arrested for protesting the citywide ban on public nudity. Taub is a single mother of three that stars in the local cable television show, “My Naked Truth,” which advocates nudist ideals. She speculates that the public nudity ban has its roots in gentrification.

“The main reason for this ban is gentrification,” Taub said. “It’s about catering to people who have more money and making San Francisco ‘more clean.’ It’s about paving the road to charge more for housing and break San Francisco’s spirit.”

Wiener and fellow supervisor Mark Farrell have recently brought a bill to the floor that would effectively get rid of rent control for 2,000 housing units in San Francisco and could raise the prices of those living spaces, according to a BeyondChron report.

Though both Davis and Taub would like to see supervisor Wiener out of office, Wiener encourages the competition.

“George Davis, as with any District 8 voter, has every right to run for supervisor,” Wiener said. “I have no problem with competition. It’s a privilege for me to hold (this seat), and when it’s time for my reelection, I’ll remind the voters about the work I’ve done for the district and the city and ask the voters to grant me the privilege of representing them for another four years.”

This isn’t Davis’ first time running for political office. In 2007, he was one of many that ran to oust then-mayor Gavin Newsom. After his loss in that election, many expected him to give up.

“Many thought I should have felt bad and (left) with my tail between my legs,” Davis said. “My runs have always been strategic, and not necessarily to win. My goal is to put the naturist movement out there more and prove that nudity is a form of political expression.”


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Nudity ban ignites protest, fuels opposition to supervisor's seat