Topless Women Pose a Challenge to White House Engagement Forum

This probably isn’t what the Obama administration had in mind with its website for public petitions.

The president of GoTopless, Nadine Gary, says the laws on toplessness differ from state to state and need to be decided definitively by the federal government. “We are in front of the White House because it’s not just a state issue, this is a women’s right that has to do with all 50 states,” Gary said. The White House may not see it that way. At any rate, we’ll likely never know. The group is still thousands of signatures short of the 25,000 necessary to receive a response.  

This surely wasn’t what White House officials had in mind when they launched We the People, the online forum aimed at “giving all Americans a way to engage their government on the issues that matter to them.”

GoTopless, created in 2007 by members of the Raelian movement, launched a protest on the White House’s online petition website advocating for the equal right of men and women to, well, go topless in public.  

The organization wrote an open letter to President Obama, arguing that the rights of men and women to cover their chests or not should not be bound by legal restrictions. The petition had 1,462 signatures as of Tuesday. To draw attention to the petition, the group protested in front of the White House on August 26th, which coincided with Women’s Equality Day.

The White House launched We the People in September 2011 to encourage public interaction with federal officials. In the past, petitions on Marijuana legalization and online gambling have topped the list.  While no petition has successfully translated into policy, the White House has responded to many of them.