The WhiteHouse.Gov Petition for More Clothing-Optional Areas

| January 29, 2014 | 29 Comments

Is The Petition For More Clothing-Optional Areas Worthwhile or A Big Waste of Time?

Guest blog

White House Petition for Clothing-Optional Areas

More clothing-optional areas – For those of you unaware, on January 13th, Larry Darter of the Dallas Examiner created a “We the People” petition that calls for all Federal lands to have clothing-optional areas. It’s puttered along for a few weeks and AANR has put their stamp of approval on it. Currently it has just over 2,500 signatures of the 100,000 needed. With only two weeks to go, it doesn’t look like it will meet it’s goal. Some may see this as an indication of the decline of naturism or that naturists have serious privacy concerns, making them scared to death of actually putting a signature on anything. I have a slightly different stance.

The “We the People” campaign was created by the U.S. Government in 2011 as a means to receive feedback from its citizens about political, social, and economic issues, giving the average person a way to petition the government about their concerns. Initially, only 5,000 signatures were needed for the White House to issue a response. Quickly after launch, the number jumped to 25,000 and today it’s 100,000. Even with the number of signatures needed ever increasing, reaching the goal doesn’t guarantee an official statement. In the past there have been petitions to label GMO food, legalize marijuana, and close Guantanamo Bay that have all exceeded the requirements, but still fell on deaf ears. Meanwhile other petitions, such as the one seeking to publish a White House Beer recipe, or to build a full-scale Death Star, or the recent one with the demand to deport Justin Bieber, received elaborate comedic prose without any political relevance. The White House is simply cherry-picking what they deem applicable and will get them the most press. Even if this petition for more clothing-optional outdoor spaces does reach its goal and the White House picks it as one of their important issues, there is no indicator that the reply will actually address the issue or be serious in any way.

we the people white house petition clothing-optional areas public land yna

We the People White House Petition

Another thing to mention is that there currently aren’t any federal laws against casual, non-sexual nudity. All of the laws on record have been made strictly by the states. The implication of the petition is that every national park and forest would quarter off sections for clothing-optional use. After that, who dictates where these clothing-optional areas are? They could section off a five-foot square that is hundreds of yards from any trail, swimming hole, or major park area and designate it as clothing optional. Or how about the back of any cave occupied by a grizzly bear? Sure, they’re clothing-optional too. Now, with government sanctioned clothing-optional areas all over the place, there would need to be way to control all the naked people from wondering out of their designated areas. It wouldn’t be long before a federal law was signed, making all non-sexual nudity illegal. By taking this to the national level, there is the potential of it backfiring, because there is really nothing to legalize.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against a world with more nudie places. It’d be great if I turned out to be wrong, and the petition ended up receiving an official, positive response from the White House. YNA did post about the petition on Facebook and Twitter. Gaining acceptance of the human body is what it’s all about. But when it comes to social nudity, I don’t feel that creating small clothing-optional zones is the answer, and by utilizing the government’s “We The People” website, with its trivial responses and lack-luster track record, doesn’t help with the credibility of the cause.

It should be noted that the Naturist Action Committee issued an advisory responding to the petition (link below). While they didn’t discount it, some have been surprised by their less-than-enthusiastic response. Rather than urge everyone to sign, NAC basically said they leave it up to the individual to decide whether or not to sign it.

This guest blog about the White House Petition for Clothing-Optional Areas was published by – Young Naturists and Nudists America

The Whitehouse.gov Petition

Petition’s Website Created by Larry Darter

NAC’s Advisory Response to the Petition

Darter’s Follow-Up Article Addressing NAC’s Response

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Category: Social Nudity Blogs, Public Nudity, Nudity Laws, Nudism and Naturism, Nudist Blogs, Social Activism

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Guest blogs written exclusively for Young Naturists America.
  • Zerokini

    Lamdba This is a problem that transcends naturism.  The federal government is hell-bent on becoming a “national” government and effectively dissolving State governments or so completely neutering them that they are useless.  A lot bigger bad things are going on than closing clothing optional locations.  Time to wake up, folks.

  • Zerokini

    It has been my experience that it doesn’t matter whether there are federal laws against nudity or not:  In its constant (and illegal) effort to turn the federal government into a “national” government, federal law enforcement officers are being given accreditation as State officers and are enforcing State laws on federal lands.  In Arizona, for example, being naked is not illegal per se, but is a misdemeanor if you disrobe in the presence of anyone who might object, and it is a felony sexual offense if you are in the presence of anyone !5 years old or younger — and prosecutors are threatening people who were naked among naked friends with a felony conviction if they don’t roll over and plead guilty on the misdemeanor, when in fact no one objected and no 15-year-olds were within ten miles.

    I’m a rabble-rouser, but I don’t look for trouble.  If they do that to me or anyone I know they will get a surprise, but I’m not going to invite an arrest.

  • Al Mahany

    I see a belief here by some posters of “Let’s not rock the boat because they might use it to make things worse for us”.  Well that is what we were told for years by the pundits about Lighthouse Beach.  Do not attempt to make it an official nude beach like Gunnison because they might take it away from us.  So we did not attempt anything, and they took it away anyway.

    Our beaches will never be safe from the clothing Gestapos until we take control of CO status away from the petty dictators that run the various parks and give us some statutory right to what we do.

    Although this chance to do that seems to be doomed to failure, it keeps the issue on the front burner.  Change starts with the front burner, not some back one.  I am glad I signed it.

  • Al Mahany

    Lamdba Al MahanyFairly well although I am not an expert.  It does seem however that Lena Koschmann does not know those polices well at all, which is scary considering she is the top cop at FINS.

  • Lamdba

    Al Mahany I really hope you’re right. How well do you know NPS internal policies? Have you ever worked there?

  • jasenj1 dallasnudistcultureEx  
    As I mentioned previously, getting only a few thousand signatures makes us look as we are, a splintered uncooperative group of individuals with conflicted ideas of how to advance naturism to the extent we can’t reach any consensus. If that makes us look bad, so be it. Maybe it is time to face reality.  I talked with hundreds of naturists and conducted a survey before deciding to post the petition. Every indication was there was enough interest for it to succeed. What I didn’t count on and could not have foreseen were just how many naturists would simply decide on their own that it wasn’t a perfect idea or that it wouldn’t work anyway and wouldn’t sign. I don’t apologize for posting the petition.  I sure am not going to apologize on behalf of those who chose not to sign it. Those that did not sign regardless of their reasons helped it fail. Some even went out of their way to dissuade others from signing. So if you are looking for an apology for making us look bad go talk to them.
    Cheers,
    Larry Darter

  • jasenj1

    dallasnudistcultureEx
    “the failure of the petition to attract 100,000 votes isn’t going to make “us” look bad”

    I disagree. A poor response to the petition will either:
    A. Show that very few people care about nude recreation – these people need not be nudists, just people who believe we are a valid user group and should get some accomodattion.
    B. Nudists can’t mobilize their members to take political action.

    In either case, nudists can safely be ignored. There’s no chance of political consequences.

    “there was never any danger that the federal government would pass any federal law criminalizing nudity as a result of the petition”

    Agreed. At best we could expect a snarky response from a staffer like several other petitions have received. But a good showing would show that people care about the issue and are willing to take action.

    A strong response would have been something AANR, TNS, and others could point to to say people care about the issue. Instead, we have something discouraging. We have evidence that people in the USA don’t give a rip about nude recreation. We have another sign that nudism is dying in the USA.

  • FelicityJones All-Nudist.comI respect your right to your opinion about the petition. You aren’t alone in feeling that way. Many naturists and nudists that I have known and respected for a long time don’t believe it was the best way to advance naturism. But I do take issue with a couple of things you said.

    Firstly, the failure of the petition to attract 100,000 votes isn’t going to make “us” look bad, assuming you mean the naturist community. It will of course make us look as we are, a splintered group that individually hold such diverse opinions that we accomplish nothing due to inaction with a generous helping of folks who won’t do anything because they don’t believe we as individuals have any ability to change anything. It is rather egocentric to believe others didn’t sign for the same reason you didn’t. Many may have not, but there are other reasons too. At last count about 2,950 people disagree with you and that is simple fact where speculation about the number that agree with you is just that, speculation.

    The other thing is there was never any danger that the federal government would pass any federal law criminalizing nudity as a result of the petition. It doesn’t need do do so because of the Assimilative Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 13 whereby the federal government is authorized to incorporate by reference any state or local law they choose which is in force where any federally-owned public land is located. As one formerly employed at a national park in Arizona, I have firsthand knowledge of state and local shared jurisdiction. The arrangement is why Fire Island NS now enforces New York state nudity laws instead of seeking passage of a federal law to the same effect.

    The statement made where you quoted me was and remains true in every respect. What the petition asked for was reasonable and the executive branch has the power to grant what it asks since both the Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture are cabinet positions and the heads answer directly to the president. I made no claim that the president would render a decision favorable to the petition and of course now we will never know what might have happened because too many “naturists” and “nudists” just knew the petition was a bad idea or wouldn’t work so they didn’t bother to sign and we haven’t gotten anywhere close to the needed number of signatures. Now that the “We the People” site has lost complete credibility there won’t ever be a chance to do something like this again. So hopefully you and other detractors were as right as you are convinced you are.
    So at least in hindsight, you’re probably right that it would have been a waste of time to sign the petition so now you can spend your 2-3 minutes to “advocate for things that will actually create change.” I’ll be looking forward to seeing what kind of issues you get behind and then we can change places and I can critique the worthiness of your issues.
    Cheers,
    Larry Darter

  • j238

    Lamdba  Doing nothing publicly/officially has been the naturist political strategy in the United States all along.  

    There’s no other option.  We’re in a country that held congressional hearings over a bare tit on national tv for less than a second.  An official public victory just isn’t in the cards for naturists. 

    Best strategy is to work smartly and cooperatively behind the scenes.

  • All-Nudist.com

    j238 That’s a good point – if it passed.  Passing only means that someone on the WH staff will see it, no action need be taken.

    Willing to take that risk?  That would be the first time in history the government publicly recognized the existence of a nationwide social nudism movement.  Yes, worth the risk.  They’re closing beaches right and left as it is.

  • jasenj1

    j238 All-Nudist.com FelicityJones  
    The federal bureaucracy has a lot of leeway in how it chooses to enforce policies. See Eric Holder & the various things he’s said the Justice Department will or won’t pursue.

    A strong showing on the petition could have subtle influence on the NPS. A word in a meeting, an email between high level bureaucrats, and the tone from NPS could soften noticeably.

    A poor showing may show that the country doesn’t care about nudism and the NPS can feel free to run off the pesky naked folk to their hearts content – there’s no chance of political backlash.

  • Lamdba

    I’m mostly with you, but j238 actually has a valid point. I think it’s much more likely that Obama will just laugh it off, or give some vague, noncommittal response, but there is a small chance this could backfire; maybe it’s not worth the risk. That said, there’s also considerable risk in doing nothing.

  • All-Nudist.com

    FelicityJonesNo one knows it exists outside of our community, true.  Poor idea? Have to disagree.  Impossible dream?  Yes.
    Part of the reason for the petition was to stimulate conversation about what can be done to promote social nudism but unfortunately, debate over the petition itself has resulted instead.
    .
    Nudists vs nudists instead of a unified front, as usual.  :-(

  • j238

    All-Nudist.com FelicityJones  

    In the unlikely event the petition gets 100K signatures, President Obama will have to respond. 

    It’s unimaginable he will endorse the proposal.  Imagine the snickering that will happen on Fox News.  It’s just not going to happen.   

    If he laughs it off like the Death Star, no harm done. 

    If he gives it an official thumbs down, any NPS supervisor can interpret that as Federal policy and shut down an existing clothing optional area.  Are you willing to risk that?

  • Lamdba

    The sad thing is, it shouldn’t have too. If only all of AANR signed it, that would at least put us in the tens of thousands, and most nudists I talk to don’t seem to be AANR members. The numbers are there, and if we ever managed to come together, I think we’d be harder to push around.

  • All-Nudist.com  I personally think it will make us look bad after it fails to do anything, fails in signatures and because it’s a poor idea to begin with.

  • All-Nudist.com

    FelicityJones In the unlikely event the petition was successful and legislation enacted, it would legalize and preserve Federal land for c/o use, not prohibit is as is the defacto case now, especially where nudity is currently subject to state law on Federal lands.

    The creation of legal c/o areas would legitimise and protect those engaging in nude recreation rather than leaving the question of legality and prosecution up to the whims of local authorities and overreacting Textiles.  It would supercede state laws rather than conform to them as is now the case.

    Designating areas of Federal land c/o, including beaches, would serve to mainstream at least the concept of nude recreation while introducing the general public to the idea that we can amicably coexist.

    It’s not going to happen for a variety of reasons, but the attempt is certainly nothing to be ashamed of or to fear.  How it could “make us look bad” for advocating for reasonable rights is mystifying, especially considering some of the stunts that some in our community have enthusiastically endorsed in the name of ‘naturism’ or ‘nudism’.

    In the meantime, we’ll be looking forward to seeing those “things that will actually create change!”  Nothing has so far, and obstruction of reasonable attempts isn’t likely to encourage future efforts.

  • j238

    FelicityJones Thank you for your thoughtful post.  I wish AANR would see things so clearly.

  • All-Nudist.com  I honestly think it’s sad that AANR only got some 3,000 signatures after two years of promoting that. I didn’t read it, but my guess is they simply don’t have much of an influence online. I mean, they really tried to promote this petition, and it’s still not doing very well. 

    Most nudists seem to view this petition as a positive way to make our voices heard, and it can’t possibly do any harm, right? …Wrong. I suppose NAC didn’t figure that harm was likely, since they didn’t say not to sign it. But negative outcomes are possible, such as the petition inspires the government to actually create a federal law against nudity. 

    Mr. Darter says, “The petition arguably asks for something reasonable that is perfectly within the power of government policy makers to give should they choose to do so.”  —Not gonna happen. That’s not how it works. 

    Nudity laws are made on a state / local level. This just isn’t the way to go about creating more c/o areas. The petition will most likely fail as well as make us look bad. Not worth our time (and I speak of time promoting it & getting the word out, not only the few minutes it takes to sign it). I’d rather advocate for things that will actually create change!

  • j238

    Thanks for writing a thoughtful piece.

    I don’t know of a single elected official in the US coming out publicly in support of a naturist issue.

    Does anyone here think the President of the United States will take a favorable stand on this?  

    What would be the consequence if the President officially declined the petition?  Could that be used as a justification to close down a locations Gunnison?

  • All-Nudist.com

    Al Mahany All-Nudist.com Lamdba  Yeah, the so-called ‘artistic’ exception’ that allows the same ‘innapropriate’ exposure of the body because, somehow, ART superceds common ‘decency’ rules.  What a joke.  Why is ‘art’ so special?  Why are ‘artists’ given more freedom than others?
    Like the pigs said in ‘Animal Farm’: “Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.’  Really?

    And yes, the ‘Meat Rack’ is what I was thinking of.  There’s also an explosive ‘political correctness’ issue there, considering who is doing what to whom.  We’ll leave that alone here.
    Money is always the issue, not morality, public safety, equal treatment under the law, or the will of the people.  After all, this is America.

  • Al Mahany

    All-Nudist.comAl MahanyLamdba You are talking about the “Meat Rack”.  Yes even Lena calls it that.  And it is well named.  Incredibly she says the Rangers will not enforce anti nudity law there because the area is not a problem.  In reality it is a major problem, where public sex is the norm.  So what is the difference?  You hit the nail on the head:  Wealthy property owners in The Pines and The Grove can flout the law and have the Rangers turn a blind eye, while us law abiding naturists who don’t have the big bucks can’t even enjoy a peaceful day at the beach.   Money talks, especially among FINS officials who get paid our tax dollars to manage FINS for everyone, not just the rich.

  • All-Nudist.com

    Al Mahany Lamdba Can’t swear to it but the last we knew, the nudity restrictions do not apply to the wealthy area and the woods up the beach a ways.  You know, the area well known for sexual encounters and used by the rich and famous?
    Sorry to not be able to be more specific, but it’s easily researched.  Don’t feel the urge at the moment!

  • Al Mahany

    How long will it take you to sign the damn thing?  Took me about 2 minutes.  Is your life really so busy that you can’t take 2 minutes to add your name to the voices calling for Washington to recognize our naturist rights?

  • Al Mahany

    LamdbaNo it is not true.  Lena Koschmann is wrong.  Federal policy support uniform application of state law.  Lena concludes that since public nudity is illegal in New York, that is uniform application.  The part she is hiding from is that it is the policy of New York police to NOT enforce anti nudity laws in traditional nude areas, EXACTLY what NPS did before Lena screwed up the works.  Now Lena is doing exactly what she says is wrong, i.e. non-uniform application of State law.

  • All-Nudist.com

    Lamdba  Apparently not all Federal agencies are so prudish.  Here’s an encouraging report on that subject: http://www.examiner.com/article/one-federal-agency-s-common-sense-approach-to-clothing-optional-recreation

  • Lamdba

    After Lighthouse Beach closed, Chief Ranger Lena Koschmann said, in an interview, “We have internal National Park Service policies that prohibit us from designating nude recreation areas. We are not supposed to have signs up in areas designated specifically for clothing optional recreation. Fire Island has been acting contrary to our national policy, up until now.”
    If what she said is true, then we have a serious problem on the national level. This petition is as much about stopping the hemorrhage of existing clothing-optional areas as it is about creating new ones.
    Sure, a section in every park would be nice, but the real goal is simply to have the same consideration that other user groups get (people who ride horses, cross-country skiers, people with motorboats, etc).

  • All-Nudist

    As we all know, it’s very hard to get folks to participate in things like this, even if it’s easy. Factor in that most nudists/naturists are unlikely to be online looking for nudist information unless perhaps planning a vacation (and therefore unaware the Petition even exists) and the pool of available signers dwindles rapidly.

    However, the number of signers is significant in that it indicates a pretty fair amount of interest, even if nowhere enough to attract White House attention.  To put things into perspective, consider the following:
    AANR’s ‘Nudist Bill of Rights’  3,327 after two years of promotion to 50,000 members plus the general public.
    Public Land Petition   2,671 after two WEEKS online, largely unnoticed for the first week.
    Either this indicates that folks are waking up, AANR’s Bill lacks appeal, or, well, what? Not sure of that but this seems like a step forward, and a lot better than doing nothing!

  • Laron Dye

    Pay attention to the words that are coming out of my mouth—-” Change will never happen if you’re just a by standard “– Waiting for someone else to make the first step to change is a waste of time –Get involved and sign the petition.
    ——————————————-
    The number of signatures on the signed petition should have reached by now ——200,000 +
    ——————————————-
    Stand Up ,Stand Strong and Be Heard