On Saturday, the Ocean City Council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance to prohibit public nudity.
The emergency ordinance says “there is no constitutional right for an individual to appear in public nude or in a state of nudity,” Ocean City officials said.
According to a Washington Post article, Ocean City police were instructed not to “approach the topless women, even if requested to do so by the complainant or other beach patrons,” which in turn called for the new ordinance.
Chelsea Covington wrote a legal brief that argued Maryland law permits women to go topless in public, leading to the development of the beach patrol policy.
She told The Washington Post, “It is most certainly about equality under the law.”
The Worcester County state’s attorney’s office sought advice from the Maryland attorney general’s office after being contacted by Covington and is still waiting on a response.
The legislation insists that there is a different between women and men.
“Equal protection clause does not demand that things are different in fact be treated the same in law, nor that a government pretend that there are no psychological differences between men and women,” the ordinance read.
Encouraging nudity is not something the town wants to do, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said.
“The Mayor and City Council are unanimously opposed to women being topless on our beach or in any public area in Ocean City,” Meehan said in a statement.
“While we respect Ms. Covington’s desire to express what rights she believes she may have, Ocean City is a family resort and we intend to do whatever is within our ability to also protect the rights of those family that visit us each year,” Meehan said.