DENVER (CBS4)– The fight over women going topless in Fort Collins has reached the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Women claim the topless ban violates their Constitutional rights.
Other cities in Colorado and around the U.S. have no gender-specific indecency laws. The battle over going topless in Fort Collins has been raging for years. Now, the appeals court could reach a decision that will put an end to that battle.
Last year, U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson said that Fort Collins’ ordinance is based on gender discrimination and issued an injunction against its enforcement.
Fort Collins’ indecency code makes it a crime for women but not men to show their nipples.
The law “perpetuates a stereotype ingrained in our society that female breasts are primarily objects of sexual desire, whereas male breasts are not,” Jackson wrote in February 2017.
She also said that the law is a violation of the 14th Amendment.
The plaintiffs said in court on Wednesday that if the defense wants to discriminate against women with the ban, then they must show substantial reason why.
Those in favor of the ban argued that toplessness could lead to societal disruption and the endangerment of children.
The defense used that same argument last year and the judge said it failed to prove that the sight of a woman’s breasts put children at risk. In court Wednesday, Judge Mary Briscoe echoed that sentiment, comparing toplessness to breastfeeding.
“The defense is trying to say that seeing women’s breasts would be harmful to children, it would cause huge problems in public order, society would crumble. We’ve seen time and time again throughout history that giving women more rights hasn’t caused that to happen,” said plaintiff attorney Andy McNulty. “It’s clear in Denver right now because women are allowed to be topless. Women aren’t walking down the street topless every day. That doesn’t happen, but they have the right to.”
The defense also argued the ban is for the safety of women, explaining that they are at risk of being attacked by people who don’t agree with their lack of clothing.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to release its decision in the next few months.