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Fight For Women To Be Topless In Ocean City Back In Court

OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) -- The fight for women to go topless in Maryland's most popular beach town is back in court.

A federal appeals court has heard arguments from advocates who want to overturn Ocean City's ordinance that bans women from going topless.

A ruling was made last year to uphold the 2017 law that made nudity a municipal infraction punishable by a $1,000 fine.

The case began when five Maryland women sued Ocean City, saying the law unfairly targets women. That prompted the resort town to pass the emergency ordinance in June 2017.

"We will not allow women to go topless on our beach or any public property within the city limits of Ocean City." Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said at the time.

"Why is it necessary to pass an emergency ordinance to say a female has to be covered up?" the plaintiffs' lawyer, Devon Jacob, argued.

"The city's interest is of course in preserving and protecting the character of Ocean City, the moral sensibilities of its residents and visitors." Bruce Bright, Ocean City attorney, said in 2017.

Maryland is one of several states with ambiguous topless laws. Some cities like Austin, Texas, Boulder, Colorado, and Madison, Wisconsin have what's known as "top freedom." But some fear the family friendly feel of Ocean City could be in jeopardy if toplessness becomes the norm.

"The beach is something that we're trying to incorporate as a family," one beach visitor told WJZ in previous coverage of the controversy. "It would turn us away and we would just go elsewhere."

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