Advocates for allowing women to go topless at a popular Maryland beach destination urged an appeals court Wednesday to reject Ocean City’s “morality code” and declare its ban on bare-chested women unconstitutional.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is reviewing a decision from last spring that upheld the town’s law barring women, but not men, from going topless at the beach to protect “public sensibilities.”
Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory expressed skepticism during the Wednesday hearing about Ocean City’s rationale for the measure and the breadth of public concerns over topless sunbathing. He asked how many calls town officials received complaining about the possibility of women baring their chests and noted that the ordinance was passed after an inquiry to police about what would happen if women “expressed their freedom in this manner on the beach.”
Public sensibilities and legal standards have changed over time, Gregory said, pointing to Supreme Court decisions overturning laws that criminalized interracial marriage and sexual activity between same-sex adults.
“We’re not in the same Neanderthal-type environment,” Gregory said.
In response, Ocean City’s attorney Bruce F. Bright said the ordinance is “not a regulation of sexual choices or behavior. This is a regulation of public nudity and whether it should still be defined as exposure of the female breast.”
Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. seemed to agree with the town’s view that the feedback elected officials receive from concerned residents should count for something when it comes to local legislation.
“We may think it’s good or bad, but the question is what are the moral sensibilities?” Quattlebaum said.
Source: Washington Post via MSN
Original publication 6 May, 2021
Posted on NatCorn 13th May 2021
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