Comfest organizers say they will file a federal lawsuit Monday to keep state liquor agents from using a regulation governing strip clubs to punish the festival and female attendees who chose to go topless in Goodale Park.
In a press release, Comfest organizers say state liquor agents have threatened to issue sanctions against the festival, or even shut down liquor sales - which largely fund the annual event - if organizers don't take responsibility for removing any topless women from the park.
The basis of the threat is a state regulation on adult entertainment businesses, that forbids a liquor license holder from allowing employees or patrons from exposing their breasts. Aside from the issue of First Amendment rights, the festival organizers say Comfest is a very different situation. The city's non-exclusive permit for the three-day festival means that the park remains open to the public, and organizers cannot ban otherwise law-abiding people from the grounds.
Several years ago, city officials clarified that public decency laws do not prevent either gender from appearing in public topless.