GoTopless, a U.S.-based organization dedicated to attaining women's rights to go bare-chested, today announced that it is petitioning the Obama administration to have that right recognized nationally.
The petition has been launched this week ahead of International GoTopless Day, August 26, a date chosen to coincide with Women's Equality Day, which commemorates the attainment of women's voting rights on Aug. 26, 1920.
"Any state or local law making it illegal for a woman to go topless is unconstitutional, but most people don't know that," said GoTopless President Nadine Gary. "That's why we're taking the issue of topless rights to the top by demanding the president's attention to this issue. A woman's right to go topless falls under the 14th Amendment's gender equality provision, and nobody knows that better than President Obama. He taught constitutional law."
"We urge people nationwide to sign it," Gary said. "We need 25,000 signatures to meet our goal." She added that topless rights are now where men's were a century ago.
"People forget it wasn't acceptable for men to bare their chests until 1933," Gary said. "Even men's bathing suits had to include a top. Clark Gable exposed his chest in the 1934 movie 'It Happened One Night,' and it caused a national scandal. Today, nobody thinks a thing of it when a man takes his shirt off. Now it's women's turn."
Gary said GoTopless was founded in 2007 by Rael, spiritual leader of the International Raelian Movement, after he heard of a New York City case in which a woman arrested for going topless sued for wrongful arrest and won significant damages.
"Her right was upheld but it shouldn't have been necessary for her to prove it," Gary commented. "New York has been a legally topless state for women since 1992, but frequently the police either don't know the law or ignore it to appease religious zealots."
"Top-down, rigid morality codes of mainstream religions are the primary source of topless inequality directed against women, and mustn't be allowed to override the Constitution,' according to GoTopless. "The Constitution is very clear about separation of church and state," Gary said.