ALTIMORE (WJZ) — As beachgoers gear up for summer, there’s controversy swirling in Ocean City.
Now, women who bare all could be slapped with a hefty fine. After some back and forth with local lawmakers, they’ve decided to fine women who go topless.
The City Council of Ocean City unanimously passed the emergency ordinance prohibiting public nudity, which says “there is no constitutional right for an individual to appear in public nude or in a state of nudity.”
As things heat up at the beach, so does the controversy over whether like men, women can go bare chested on the beach.
“To me, it’s freedom,” says one beachgoer.
Last week, lifeguards were instructed just not to engage with topless women. Now, the rules are changing, again.
“We will not allow women to be topless on our beach, or on any public property within city limits of Ocean City,” says Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan.
The situation started last summer when an Eastern Shore resident said it is her legal right to bare her chest on the beach, just like men.
Maryland law, she argues, isn’t clear.
“There is no book that identifies what is and what isn’t indecent exposure. So that’s the reason there’s an ambiguity,” says lawyer Adam Ruther.
The controversy is getting national attention, after concerns that Ocean City was going topless.
City officials were bombarded with concerned calls from visitors.
Now, an emergency session is called to clarify:
“We have never been a topless beach and we will not become a topless beach,” says Meehan.
Women who wear less than a fully opaque covering will be fined $1,000 dollars.
Austin, Texas, Boulder, Colorado and Madison, Wisconsin are a few of the cities that have what’s called “topless freedom.”