HB 5874 was signed by the Governor. Click here for an UPDATE.

NAC Action Alert
ILLINOIS House Bill 5874

June 15, 2002

Click here for more information on Illinois House Bill 5874.

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                     NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE
                           ACTION ALERT
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                 http://www.naturistsociety.com/NAC/
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DATE   : June 15, 2002
SUBJECT: Illinois House Bill 5874
TO     : All naturists


The Naturist Action Committee has uncovered a small but extremely significant and threatening phrase in a piece of legislation that has already been passed by both houses of the Illinois legislature and is on its way to be signed by the Governor.

Buried in the more than 7,500 words that made up a recent Senate amendment to House Bill 5874 are 8 words that can add skinnydippers to the list of sex offenders who must register with the state. Included in the definition of "sex offense" for which registration is required under the proposed law: "public indecency for a third or subsequent conviction."

EXISTING LAW

Existing Illinois law (720 ILCS 5/11-9) prohibits any person 17 years of age and over from performing the act of public indecency, which the law defines as "[a] lewd exposure of the body done with intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of the person." Public indecency is an offense when performed in a "public place," which the statute defines as "any place where the conduct may reasonably be expected to be viewed by others."

Public indecency is a Class A misdemeanor. A person convicted of a third or subsequent violation for public indecency is guilty of a Class 4 felony.

Naturists will argue, justifiably, that the statute should not be applied to simple nudity. Mere nudity must not be associated inherently with an intent to arouse or satisfy a sexual desire. In other words, to use a familiar phrase, "Nude is not lewd."

However, the reality is that this is the Illinois state statute used to prosecute and convict people for simple nudity.

HOW DID WE MISS THIS EARLIER?

Missing an important phrase in a piece of legislation is one of NAC's worst nightmares. As a nonprofit volunteer organization, we rely on local scrutiny from concerned naturists as well as our network of Area Representatives. We also purchase the services of a commercial bill tracking company to assist us in identifying threats. None of these properly identified the anti-nudity amendment to HB 5874 in a timely manner. As a result, NAC is reevaluating its intelligence-gathering mechanisms.

While no grass roots organization can count on being one hundred percent effective, NAC's record is far better than most. However, the fact that no other national, regional or local nudist or naturist organization caught this is of no consolation. We must continue our vigilance and improve upon it.

WHAT IS NAC DOING, NOW THAT IT KNOWS?

The Naturist Action Committee has asked Illinois Governor George Ryan to exercise his power of Amendatory Veto to remove the offending provision from the pending law. An amendatory veto is issued when the governor disagrees with certain provisions of a bill. The amendatory veto message contains specific recommendations for change in the legislation. The Illinois constitution provides that an amendatory veto may be accepted by a majority vote of the members of each house. An override of the amendatory veto requires a three-fifths vote.

WHAT CAN I DO NOW?

House Bill 5874, with its severe anti-nudity amendment, has been sent to the Governor for his signature. NAC asks for ALL NATURISTS to contact the Governor of Illinois.

   [Please note: While contacts from Illinois residents are the
   most valuable, CONTACTS FROM THOSE WHO LIVE OUTSIDE THE STATE
   ARE DEFINITELY APPROPRIATE IN THIS INSTANCE
. If you're moving
   to Illinois or just going to school there, the new law would
   place you on the state's list of registered sex offenders if
   you've been convicted three times for skinnydipping or simple
   nudity in another state - even if that other state doesn't
   consider such a thing to be a sex offense under its own laws.]
  

WHOM SHOULD I CONTACT?

  George H. Ryan, Governor
  Office of the Governor
  207 Statehouse
  Springfield, IL 62706

  TEL: (217) 782-0244
  FAX: (217) 524-4049

  E-MAIL: governor@state.il.us


WRITING OR FAXING

Write or fax your comments to Governor Ryan immediately. Here are some helpful hints:

   1) Always give your name and address. Sign your letter. Unsigned letters are generally ignored.

   2) If you are an Illinois resident, say so prominently.

   3) Be concise and polite. Rambling letters score no points. Insulting letters hurt us.

   4) Clearly identify HOUSE BILL 5874 as the legislation about which you are concerned.

   5) THIS IS IMPORTANT: Say specifically that you OPPOSE the language found on LINES 2 AND 3 OF PAGE 12 OF THE ENROLLED BILL. That is the Senate amendment to HB 5874 that would make sex criminals of skinnydippers and others engaged in simple nudity that is non-violent and non-aggressive.

   6) In your own word, point out the difference between mere nudity and the sorts of crimes for which the state's sex offender registry was actually intended. Skinnydippers and nude sunbathers, even those convicted three or more times for their "offense," DO NOT belong on any state's list of sex offenders.

   7) Ask specifically for the Governor to use his power of AMENDATORY VETO to remove the improper inclusion from the bill.


CONTACTS BY E-MAIL

Most politicians still prefer a piece of mail they can hold in their hand. However, in the wake of recent bio-terrorist activities involving physical mail, some in government are beginning to view e-mail more favorably. If you choose to send an e-mail to Governor Ryan, refer to the points outlined above.


TELEPHONING

You may choose to make your comments by telephone to the Governor's office. Even if you've already written, faxed or e-mailed your remarks, a phone call is an effective way to follow up. Here are some helpful hints:

   1) Ask for the Governor by name, but be prepared to speak to an aide. Governor Ryan does not generally take phone calls personally on issues like this. The aide is trained to relate your concerns to the Governor.

   2) Always give your name and address. Anonymous calls are ignored.
If you are an Illinois resident, please say so prominently.

   3) Be brief and polite. Expressing your deep concern can be beneficial. Insults and snide remarks will do us no good.

   4) Clearly identify HOUSE BILL 5874 as the legislation with which you are concerned.

   5) Say specifically that you oppose the anti-nudity language that was added in the Senate amendment. Say specifically that you OPPOSE the language found on LINES 2 AND 3 OF PAGE 12 OF THE ENROLLED BILL.

   6) Explain, in your own words, why this issue is important to you. Express your strong concern and opposition over adding mere nudity to the list of things that can get someone put on the list of those who must register with the state as sex offenders.

   7) Ask specifically for the Governor to use his power of AMENDATORY VETO to remove the improper inclusion from the bill.


MORE INFORMATION
Additional information about Illinois House Bill 5874 and the anti-nudity amendment inserted into it is available on the web site of the Naturist Action Committee:

     www.naturistsociety.com/NAC

Select ALERTS,ADVISORIES & UPDATES and then "Current Alerts" to find NAC's Illinois Action Alert and links to additional information, including the complete text of the substitute legislation.

PLEASE HELP NAC HELP NATURISTS
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 and support of naturists.

NAC has no membership roster on which to assess dues, and it relies completely on voluntary contributions from concerned and involved naturists like you. 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 (920) 426-5009 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,

Bob Morton
Chairman and Executive Director
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 Nicky Hoffman     - <nickyh@naturistsociety.com>
Online Rep. Dennis Kirkpatrick - <naturist@sunclad.com>
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