NAC Update
NORTH DAKOTA Senate Bill 2212

February 28, 2003

Click here for the complete text of North Dakota Senate Bill 2212.

Click here for current North Dakota statutes addressing nudity.

View the NAC Action Alert for North Dakota SB 2212 (February 18, 2003)

| Return to Current NAC Action Alerts | Return to NAC Home Page |

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                     NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE
                             UPDATE
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                 http://www.naturistsociety.com/NAC/
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DATE   : February 28, 2003
SUBJECT: North Dakota Senate Bill 2212
TO     : All naturists

Dear Naturist,

On February 18, 2003, the Naturist Action Committee issued an Action Alert concerning North Dakota Senate Bill 2212, a measure that would amend the state's existing indecent exposure statute. This is an Update. No new action on your part is requested by NAC at this time. However, if you've not already done so, NAC strongly encourages you to take action as detailed in the February 18 NAC Action Alert, which is still valid.

PRESENT STATUS

Senate Bill 2212 remains assigned to the House Judiciary Committee where it was sent after passing a floor vote in the Senate. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a House committee hearing.


NATURISTS RESPOND

Despite an isolated but persistent online effort to dissuade naturists from responding to NAC's Action Alert, naturists have been contacting members of the North Dakota House Judiciary Committee in gratifying numbers. NAC extends its thanks to all who have chosen to help!


A BRIEF REVIEW OF SB 2212

Senate Bill 2212 proposes to modify Subsection 1 of section 12.1-20-12.1 of the North Dakota Century Code. The revisions that would be made are shown in UPPER CASE letters in the following excerpt from the bill:

 1. A person, with intent to arouse, appeal to, or
   gratify that person's lust, passions, or sexual
   desires, is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if
   that person:

     a. Masturbates in a public place OR IN THE
       PRESENCE OF A MINOR;or

     b. Exposes one's penis, vulva, or anus in a
       public place OR TO A MINOR IN A PUBLIC OR
       PRIVATE PLACE.
____

Quoting from
NAC's Action Alert on this matter:

"Naturists should not take comfort in the wording that seems to indicate an offense takes place only if there is intent to arouse, appeal to or gratify sexual desires. Despite those words, this is the section of North Dakota law used as a practical matter to prosecute simple nudity. Sexual motivation is assumed to be associated with nudity.

"Why else would any anyone be nude, right?

"This bill would criminalize nudity in the presence of a child and makes no exception for nudity in naturist contexts or even for household nudity among family members. Indeed, many lawmakers have been led to believe that household nudity "softens up" a child for acceptance of subsequent sexual abuse."


ISSUES IN GREATER DEPTH

There has been some discussion in the naturist community about whether it is appropriate for naturists to oppose a legislative measure that appears to exempt those who are nude without sexual intent. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers.

  1) Are there example cases in which the indecent exposure statute has been applied against naturist activity?

  The wording of the present North Dakota indecent exposure statute has been in effect for only a little more than a year. The North Dakota attorneys to whom NAC has spoken could not point to an indecent exposure case involving a naturist, but they were not at all surprised at that, given the relatively short period of time the present law has been in use. All agreed that any conclusions based on cases prosecuted under the obsolete wording from previous years would be meaningless for our purposes.


  2) Will the present indecent exposure statute be used against naturists?

  Notwithstanding recent online theoretical musings, the answer as a practical matter is yes.

NAC did not arrive at this conclusion in a vacuum. Among those whom NAC consulted on this matter were North Dakota criminal defense attorneys in private practice, staff members in the offices of State's Attorneys and the elected prosecutor in the state's most populous county.

When asked directly if we could rule out the use of the indecent exposure statute in the prosecution of skinny-dippers, nude sunbathers and others who are merely nude, the prosecutor's answer was, "Not at all. My office sure wouldn't rule it out."

His response was typical of those NAC received from its other sources. NAC must deal in realities, not in theories.


  3) Won't the addition of the proposed wording concerning children make it clear that we are not the target?

  Quite the contrary. NAC conferred with a prosecutor in his capacity as president of the North Dakota State's Attorneys Association. His assessment is that his fellow prosecutors will "look right past the part about intent and go straight to the part about children.


  4) Can't the image and interests of naturists be hurt if we oppose a proposed law that impacts us, but which also affects others whose values we may not share?

  We would be hurt far worse if we chose to do nothing! It is a fact of lawmaking that proposed laws often impact several different interests.

Example: In Ohio just last year, the sweeping language of House Bill 469 would have affected naturists, nudist resort owners, strippers, the adult entertainment industry, the alcoholic beverage industry, gays, lesbians, and many others. NAC did not choose to sit that one out just because a multitude of interests were involved. In fact, NAC led a coalition of naturists and nudists that stripped the initially alarming bill of its offensive language and stalled it in a subcommittee. The image of naturists did not suffer for that effort. Rather, naturists were seen by lawmakers and the media as a potent and distinct grass roots force with a focused goal.


  5) Couldn't we just let the law pass and then challenge it in court?

  This suggestion is theoretically possible, but is practically naive. As costly as it is to deal with legislation, it is many times more costly to mount a legal challenge after a bill is passed into law. Regardless of how sure you may be concerning a court's legal interpretation of the law, there is no guarantee of a "proper" outcome.


CONCLUSION

North Dakota Senate Bill 2212 remains a dangerous threat to naturists. The Naturist Action Committee has done its homework. NAC has issued an urgent call for grass roots action. If you have not already done so, NAC strongly urges you to review the NAC Action Alert and take immediate action on behalf of naturists.


MORE INFORMATION

Additional information about Senate Bill 2212 is available on the web site of the Naturist Action Committee:

    
www.naturistsociety.com/NAC

Select ALERTS, ADVISORIES & UPDATES and then "Current Updates" to find this Update and links to additional information, including the original NAC Action Alert on this issue, existing North Dakota state law and the complete text of the legislation.


PLEASE HELP NAC HELP NATURISTS IN NORTH DAKOTA AND ELSEWHERE

The Naturist Action Committee exists to advance and protect the rights of naturists throughout North America. NAC is a volunteer nonprofit organization that relies on the grass roots participation of naturists who understand that individuals working together can make a difference.

NAC has no membership roster on which to assess dues, and it relies completely on voluntary contributions from concerned and involved naturists like you. Monitoring lawmakers across North America is expensive, but NAC knows that it's necessary for the protection of our freedoms.

Won't you take a moment to help NAC by sending a generous donation? You may send your donation to the address below, or you may call toll free (800) 886-7230 to donate by phone using your MasterCard or Visa.

  NAC
  PO Box 132
  Oshkosh, WI 54903
 

Thank you for choosing to make a difference!

Naturally,

Mark Storey
Board Member
Naturist Action Committee

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Naturist Action Committee (NAC) - PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903
Executive Dir. Bob Morton      - <ctnudists@aol.com>
Board Member Mark Storey       - <storey98@aol.com>
Online Rep. Dennis Kirkpatrick - <naturist@sunclad.com>
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