A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked Florida’s ban on drag performances saying that the law, Senate Bill 1438, "is specifically designed to suppress the speech of drag queen performers,” and he ruled it unconstitutional.
SB 1438 was one of a package of anti-LGBTQ laws signed last month by Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, decried by multiple Florida LGBTQ equality rights groups and activists as a blatantly homophobic gesture.
U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell in his 24-page ruling noted: “The state claims that this statute seeks to protect children generally from obscene live performances. However, as explained [in court filings], Florida already has statutes that provide such protection.”
Presnell’s overturn of the drag ban follows Judge Robert Hinkle of the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida striking down two other DeSantis backed laws in the past two weeks.
Hinkle earlier this month barred the state from any further enforcement action against trans youth or their parents from seeking appropriate gender-affirming care. Then earlier this week he issued an order Wednesday that permanently enjoins Florida from enforcing its ban on transgender residents using Medicaid for gender-affirming healthcare.
The Orlando Sentinel reported the court battle was initiated by the Hamburger Mary’s restaurant in Orlando over a state law signed in May with penalties for any venue allowing children into a sexually explicit “adult live performance.” The law includes potential first-degree misdemeanor charges for violators.
Hamburger Mary’s filed a lawsuit that month DeSantis, the state and Melanie Griffin, secretary of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. DeSantis and the state have since been dropped as defendants, with Griffin remaining.
Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.