Ocean City Council passes emergency legislation banning public nudity

The Ocean City Council voted unanimously Saturday to approve an emergency ordinance prohibiting public nudity.

The 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 in a statement.

The move comes in reaction to a legal brief written by Chelsea Covington arguing that Maryland law allows women to go bare-chested in public.

She reached out to the Worcester County state's attorney's office, which deferred to the Maryland attorney general's office. The attorney general's office has not issued an opinion.

In the meantime, the council's legislation says there's a difference between men and women.

The ordinance says that the "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."

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said the town does not want to encourage nudity.

"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 families that visit us each year," he said.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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