Ocean City Topless Beach Debate Will Continue in Federal Court
Salisbury residents Chelsea Eline and Rose MacGregor, Megan Bryant, of Anne Arundel, Christine Coleman, of Long Island, New York, and Angela Urban, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit challenging the town's emergency ordinance prohibiting women on the beach from going topless.
According to the lawsuit,
"This lawsuit is about confirming the legal right of women to be bare-chested, in public, in the same places that men are permitted to be bare-chested, for purposes other than breastfeeding,"
WRDE's Legal analyst John Brady says "this is being sued on the theory of equal protection. That you cant have different standards between women and men for their conduct." Brady adds, "There could be plenty of legal precedent for the group of women arguing the case because of Colorado permits topless bathing at beaches."
The defendants named in the suit include the town, Mayor Rick Meehan, Emergency System Director Joe Theobald and Police Chief Ross Buzzuro.
Mayor Meehan responded to the recent lawsuit
"The Mayor and City Council firmly believe that Ocean City must continue to be a family resort that does not permit women to be topless on our beaches or in other public areas. As clearly stated in our emergency ordinance passed in June 2017. There is no constitutional right for an individual to appear in public nude or in a state of nudity. it does not implicate either the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the right to privacy, or a protected liberty interest. It lacks any communicated value that might call for First Amendment protection."
We will pursue all available legal options to ensure that this remains the case for the benefit of our resident and the millions of families who visit our town each year."
Ocean Citys residents are on both sides of the fence about the topic.
"I think it would be a negative thing for the city and I think that families would have to think twice about coming here and that's a lot of families," said Theresa O'Donnell.
Don Stauffer says,"If women feel if that's what they want to do and they stay perspective of it, I'll keep an open mind about it."