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Maine OKs Topless Mowing

November 4, 1998

NEWPORT, Maine (AP) _ One woman wants to mow her lawn topless. Her neighbor doesn’t like it. Solution: Let the voters decide.

With a vote Tuesday of 775-283, Newport residents nixed plans for an ordinance to punish women for displaying their breasts in public.

It all boiled over on Martin Stream Road a few months ago. Desiree Davis, who is in her 30s, wanted to cut the grass without a shirt. Her neighbor, Mary Thompson, called authorities and complained. Topless lawn mowing, she said, was indecent.

Besides, she warned, passing motorists might get distracted and cause an accident.

The law in Maine prohibits the display of genitalia or the committing of sexual acts in public. But Town Manager Kenneth Knight noted that breasts are not genitalia, and lawn mowing not a sexual act. No crime here, he reasoned.

So Thompson launched a petition drive to have the town’s Board of Selectmen craft a law to stop topless lawn-mowing women. She rounded up 125 signatures to get the matter on Tuesday’s ballot.

In the meantime, Shirley Davis, Desiree’s mother, had a company design and print T-shirts for ``official members″ of the fictitious Topless Lawn Mowers Club. More than 100 sold in the first week. Two downtown businesses selling them have placed orders for more.

Davis says her daughter doesn’t plan on changing her mowing habits for next summer.

``She likes a nice tan,″ Davis says, ``and I have a large lawn.″

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