Russell Simmons and other celebrities have thrown their support behind the group, which has gone to federal court to overturn an the ordinance.
The suit was joined by Springfield Residents Promoting Equality, and Springfield mother Jessica Lawson.
The Springfield city council (no, not the Simpson’s hometown) said the move was designed to make the city a “family friendly” tourist destination. But what about families with breastfeeding moms? D’oh!
The move followed Free the Nipple protests in August involving Lawson and some 70 other town residents. They picketed topless except for an opaque cover over their nipples as required by law, according to local reports.
“The women covered their nipples because it would have been a crime not to do so.
“The men covered their nipples, although not required to do so by law, as a sign of solidarity with women and to demonstrate the frivolity of Springfield’s sex-based regulation of nipples,” the suit states.
Anthony Rothert, a lawyer with the ACLU of Missouri, said in court papers the new law violates the First Amendment, due process, equal protection, and conflicts with state law.
“It treats women differently than men, subjects them to an inferior legal status and criminalizes breast-feeding in public,” court papers state.
The law draws a distinction between exposing the breast and exposing the nipple. Only the latter is illegal.
The new expanded the definition of indecent exposure begins “at a point immediately above the top of the areola.” The exposure also must be “likely to cause affront or alarm.”
Oddly, exposing the nipple during “performances of adult entertainment” is totally legal. Strip joints either have a strong lobby, or the city council didn’t want to drive tourists completely away.
Lawson, the lead plaintiff, is breast-feeding her child and would violate the law, the suit states.
Free the Nipple is planning more peaceful protests to challenge the “double standards, hypocrisies, and sexualization of women that supports laws and policies that treat women as inferior to men,” the suit states.