SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge considering San Francisco's public nudity ban rejected arguments Thursday that simply disrobing in public was protected political speech akin to flag burning.
U.S. District Judge Edward Chen made his comments during a 90-minute hearing held to consider the new law requiring the covering of "genitals, perineum, and anal region" that is set to go into effect on Feb. 1.
A narrowly divided Board of Supervisors passed the law last month after residents and visitors to the city's renowned Castro district complained about what they called unsightly and unsanitary nudity in a plaza in the heart of the gay neighborhood.
Public nudity activists filed a federal lawsuit seeking to invalidate the law, arguing the government-ordered cover-up violates their 1st Amendment rights to express their political views. Their supporters also complained the law contradicts the city's live-and-let-live reputation.
But U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen said Thursday it takes more than simply disrobing in public to make a political statement, as he rejected arguments that a public nudity ban was akin to outlawing the burning of the American flag.