By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Heidi Lilley of Gilford, the woman at the forefront of the Free the Nipple movement, appeared before the City Council this week, dressed in a blouse and jeans and accompanied by Dan Hynes, her attorney, wearing a brown suit.
Hynes told the councilors that the city ordinance, which forbids "the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple" in a public place, violates the United States Constitution. He said that the ordinance infringes on the fundamental rights of individuals and discriminates against women and reminded the councilors that should it be challenged, it would be liable to "strict scrutiny," the highest standard the court can apply. He urged the council to enact what he called "a gender neutral ordinance."
Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5) replied that 50 people had just died in Orlando, Florida, three-quarters of Laconia schoolchildren qualify for free or reduced lunch, the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region is full of children from broken homes and the Senior Center feeds hundreds of elderly residents. Under the circumstances, he called Lilley's issue "pretty pathetic" and suggested she "put her thoughts in more caring ways."
Lilley said that she worked in hospice care and insisted "I do not want to show my breasts. My issue is women have the same rights as men." As she spoke, Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) said "You live in Gilford," and Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) said "Go back to Gilford."
Undaunted, Lilley handed Mayor Ed Engler a proposal that she said would address the issue of harassment.
The city enacted the prohibition to discourage men from encouraging women to bare their breasts, particularly during Motorcycle Week. Lilley said that her proposal would address the issue of harassment without discriminating against women.
Meanwhile, a pair of young women, colorfully painted above the waist, tested the ordinance Tuesday as they touted a body art concession strolling among the crowd at Motorcycle Week on Lakeside Avenue. As cameras clicked, they passed two police officers who were left to ponder whether paint qualifies as "opacity," which the law requires as a covering for nipples.
Covered in body paint, these women flirted with the limits of the city ordinance prohibiting women from baring their breasts in public on Lakeside Avenue during Motorcycle Week. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
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