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Sand Springs passes emergency ordinance, now sides with state on topless ruling

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Sand Springs police cruiser (KTUL photo)

The City of Sand Springs took steps Wednesday to modify the public decency city ordinance to include anyone, regardless of gender, who is topless in public, reversing their previous decision to not ticket shirtless women.

The topless ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Oklahoma and five other states, has caused a lot of controversy in the state since its passing. In mid-September, the court struck down a topless ban in Fort Collins, Colorado after two women sued Fort Collins over the ban, arguing a violation of their equal protection rights.

Shortly after the ruling, Attorney General Mike Hunter warned the ruling doesn’t automatically invalidate local and state laws that ban women from shedding their shirts in public. Hunter contended the 10th Circuit’s ruling narrowly focused on the Fort Collins ban – that the court “made preliminary conclusions about the Fort Collins ordinance, but did not decide the law’s ultimate constitutionality.”

Many communities across the state aligned with Hunter's decision saying they would ticket women who went topless in public. However, the City of Sand Springs broke from Tulsa police and the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office by saying they wouldn't enforce the ban.

On Oct. 1, Sand Springs Police Captain Todd Enzbrenner said they wouldn't ticket anyone in town unless they committed a crime. Now, however, the city and the police department have passed an emergency ordinance that's in line with the state and Tulsa law enforcement agencies.

The Sand Springs Police Department released this statement regarding the change:

Today, the City Council of Sand Springs took steps to modify the Outraging Public Decency ordinance in our community. The effect of these modifications is that the act of being topless may be unlawful for people regardless of their sex. This ordinance was passed as an emergency and will be effective upon publication. (Please see attached for the ordinance language)
With this action, Sand Springs has eliminated a part of our ordinance that may have been discriminatory, and makes our position consistent with other communities across our state and around the country. This ordinance protects our community standards and values, while also respecting the 14th amendment rights of all people and the jurisdiction of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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