On March 9, the New Hampshire House voted to kill a bill to criminalize the act of showing breasts in public.
Republican State Reps. Brian Gallagher and Peter Spanos are co-sponsors of the denied bill, which would have made showing breasts publicly a misdemeanor. They filed the bill in response to the Free the Nipple campaign, reports the Concord Monitor.
The campaign aims to desexualize the female nipple, by framing it as an acceptable body part to display publicly. At multiple events during the summer of 2015, Free the Nipple activists went topless at New Hampshire beaches.
"It's a shame that some folks are more concerned with exposing their breasts in public places than they are concerned about how families and children may be impacted by being forced to experience this evolving societal behavior," Gallagher told New Hampshire's House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, according to US News.
The supporters of the bill were concerned that if women were allowed to be topless on beaches, then they may expand these liberties into libraries and other public venues, reports the Associated Press.
One of the provisions within the bill stated that after a second conviction, a woman would be listed in New Hampshire’s sex offender registry. Many believed this punishment was too harsh.
Those who oppose the bill point to the discrepancy between liberties of women and men. The bill was only aimed at covering the female nipple, not all nipples.
"We are not lunatics, we are not radical, we're not looking to go to football games topless or libraries or school meetings," New Hampshire resident Kari Stephens told U.S. News. "If there is a man in a public space who is obviously comfortable enough, then why should I not have that same right?"
The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee members unanimously recommended that the bill be killed, and in their report, they noted that police would be put in the unpleasant position of determining the gender of the person whose nipple is exposed. They added that the bill could infringe upon the constitutional rights of women who choose to go topless, leading to an influx of court fees, the AP reports.
For now, both women and men can legally bare their chests.