I think we all kind of knew this was coming…
For the last three years I have been going bare-chested in Ocean City, Maryland. I estimate about 30 outings across three summers. I have done my usual thing… doing my research, contacting the police, talking to beach patrol officers, confirming the legality, having conversations, answering questions etc etc, and of course just enjoying the beach bare-chested.
Unlike places like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, York Beach, and Washington D.C., Ocean City officials never would come out and say it was legal for me to be bare-chested, but they never interacted with me either, no arrests, no orders to cover up. As the conversation evolved, I even offered to arrange my peaceful arrest so we could just go to court and figure it out.
Eventually I convinced the local state’s attorney (who has been professional and courteous through all this) to ask the Attorney General for an official opinion on the topic. It was supposed to take three months, but the AG stalled for more than 10 months. Eventually, the summer season arrived and the head of the beach patrol issued an internal guidance memo telling his crew to leave bare-chested women alone.
A local reporter, Shawn Soper, from the Maryland Coast Dispatch, got a hold of the memo, published it and social media went wild. Less than a week later, Ocean City passed an “emergency” ordinance in an unannounced meeting banning female, but not male, bare-chestedness.
Then two days later, surprise, the Attorney General’s office issued a “letter of advice” (which they said is not an official opinion) which equivocated and said, basically, nothing.
Followers of topfreedom don’t need the history lesson, but nearly identical ordinances in Fort Collins, Colorado and Springfield, Missouri were held to be unconstitutional in federal courts in 2016.
So I have an attorney now, a national civil rights attorney named Devon M. Jacob. I feel quite confident that he understands the issues and that I am and the cause is in good hands. And that’s about all I can say about that for now.
A lot has been going on. I thank everyone who continues to speak civilly in my comment section, even when we don’t agree. That has always meant as much to me as anything else. But please take a few minutes to read these two pieces and just pause and ponder on the distance we have come. Thank you so much to all the people who have pioneered, continued and supported the topfreedom movement and gender equality, and equality in general.