Wisconsin Senate passes anti-nudity bills
Senate Bills SB 477 and SB 478 are now one step closer to becoming law in Wisconsin
MADISON, WI – In a significant development on January 16th, the Wisconsin State Senate passed two controversial bills, SB 477 and SB 478, in two near-party-line votes of 23 in favor to 9 opposed. One Democrat was among the 22 Republicans who voted for the bill’s passage. There was no debate over the bills, which were scheduled among a slate of others up for consideration on the Senate floor. This move marks a pivotal moment in the state's ongoing legislative tug-of-war over public nudity and civil liberties. The bills now move to the State Assembly for final passage.
Background on the bills
These bills, which have sparked heated discussions, target the participation of minors in public nudity events and redefine indecency laws. Senate Bill 477, akin to Assembly Bill 504, aims to regulate the attendance of children at public events featuring nude adults. Senate Bill 478, paralleled by Assembly Bill 503, focuses on the intentional exposure of genitals, altering the current understanding of public indecency.
The bills, having passed the Senate Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention, Children and Families in November, reflect a deep partisan divide. Critics, including naturists and civil liberties advocates, argue these bills undermine freedom of expression and threaten the naturist lifestyle.
The recent legislative push seems to have been influenced by the backlash against events like the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) in Madison. Last June's WNBR, which included families and children, sparked a moral panic, leading to these legislative responses aiming to criminalize public nudity.
Next steps and analysis
With the Senate's approval, the focus now shifts to the Wisconsin Assembly. Observers anticipate a similar outcome there, given the political composition. However, the role of Democratic Governor Tony Evers remains critical. His decision to sign or veto these bills will be decisive in shaping Wisconsin's stance on public nudity and civil liberties.
In light of these developments, Erich Schuttauf, Executive Director of the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), emphasized the importance of Governor Evers’ decision. “Throughout the week, even before the scheduling of this vote, AANR had been emailing and telephoning current and former members in the state urging them to contact lawmakers, starting first and foremost with their Democratic senators and assembly representatives while providing messaging and the contact information for individual districts,” Schuttauf told Planet Nude. “Strategy has been to greatly increase chances of obtaining a veto from the Democratic governor by getting all Democrats to ‘hold the line’ and vote in solidarity against it.”
Schuttauf also highlighted the concerted efforts by AANR and the Naturist Action Committee in organizing and guiding opposition, reflecting a robust commitment to defending the rights of naturists.
Impact on naturist communities and civil liberties
These legislative efforts represent more than just an attack on specific events like the WNBR. They signal a broader trend of moral panic and a challenge to body freedom and civil liberties. This controversy, especially in a state like Wisconsin, home to prominent naturist organizations, could set a concerning precedent for naturists nationwide.
Moreover, the irony in politicians using the guise of child protection to push these bills while simultaneously curtailing parental rights and body freedom has not gone unnoticed.
If you’re a Wisconsin resident who opposes these restrictive bills, now is the time to contact Governor Evers and let him know that it is imperative to #KeepBodiesFree. 🪐
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