Ocean City, Maryland, has more mini-golf courses than an east coast family that can’t afford Orlando can shake a putter at, but there’s one thing it won’t have anymore: topless ladies.
WBALTV reports that Ocean City voted unanimously to pass an emergency ordinance on Saturday that will prohibit public nudity. The people of the gritty beachside town have had their nipples in a twist over the matter since last summer, when “Topfreedom” advocate Chelsea Covington filed a brief with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office demanding she be allowed freedom from her top.
According to the Huffington Post, Covington’s case hinges on the state’s constitution, which states that “absolute prohibition” against gender discrimination. Therefore, if men can go topless, so can women, and she completely intends to. This all came to a head on Tuesday, when Ocean Beach Patrol Captain Butch Arbin told officers to no longer engage topless women when there are complaints, because no ruling on their right to bare chest had been made.
Ocean City officials were apparently flooded with comments and questions about the new policy, causing them to release a statement on Friday vehemently denying that they were now hosting Maryland’s preeminent nude beach.
On Saturday, Mayor Rick Meehan released a statement on the new rule, assuring everyone that boobs belong under wraps, and the constitution can eat it. Without naming her, it takes a dig at Covington for her belief that she has a “constitutional right under equal protection to be bare-chested in public,” then continues with a very disturbing message about human bodies and gender in general:
Ocean City officials disagree. The Council met on Saturday, June 10, to pass an emergency ordinance that prohibits offenses involving public nudity or those in a state of nudity. The ordinance states “there is no constitutional right for an individual to appear in public nude or in a state of nudity. Whatever personal right one has to be nude or in a state of nudity that right becomes subject to government interest and regulation when one seeks to exercise it in public.”
Further, the ordinance reads, “equal protection clause does not demand that things that are different in fact be treated the same in law, nor that a government pretend there are no physiological differences between men and women.”
The council voted unanimously in favor of the emergency ordinance.
At the opening of the meeting, City Solicitor Guy Ayres read a list of reasons why the no toplessness for women rule was legal, saying, ““People don’t have the right to impose their lifestyle on others who have an equal right to be left alone,” and adding that “females baring their breasts in public, although not offensive to everyone, is still seen by society as unpalatable.”