The Santa Fe City Council has unanimously approved a rewrite of its indecency ordinance.
Mayor David Coss and Councilors Matthew Ortiz, Ronald Trujillo and Carmichael Dominguez introduced the ordinance to prevent a repeat of an event last June that was part of the World Naked Bike Ride. The new law largely mirrors Albuquerque's ordinance,
which had led protest organizers from Albuquerque to hold their event in Santa Fe.
The new law replaces the existing ordinance, which only outlawed women from going topless in places where alcohol is served or if they were engaged in lewd behavior.
The new law specifically bans men or women from exposing their buttocks or genitalia.
Artist Tamara Lichtenstein, who opposed the change, wore a two-piece bathing suit under a black robe and skeletal mask and briefly exposed her backside to the councilors, prompting some groans as well as laughter from onlookers.
Lichtenstein said that because her normal bathing suit exposed her hips, it might be considered illegal under the rewritten ordinance: The burden of living in a diverse democracy with freedom of expression and not in a theocracy is that we are
practically guaranteed to be exposed to expressive speech and actions that we don't like, and even things that deeply offend us, she said. If we all agree that no one was ever offended, we wouldn't need a First Amendment.
Gilbert Pino, a board member of the New Mexico Catholic Coalition, found nothing funny about the demonstration. Some of the people in the audience believe it's a laughing matter, he said. I don't. I'm very serious about it. ... All my life,
Santa Fe has been the city of the holy faith. Of recent times, it's sad to say that were not the same city we were.
Raymond Joggerst questioned whether the ordinance would apply to his 14-month-old daughter who pulls up her shirt just because she thinks it's funny.
Marcos Martinez, the assistant city attorney who drafted the ordinance, said it does not designate an age at which someone is subject to the restrictions. He said the state Court of Appeals upheld the Albuquerque ordinance, finding that its provision
banning toplessness for women, but not for men, did not discriminate against women. Two similar laws in Indiana and Pennsylvania have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.