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Florida sued over law banning minors from drag performances

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talks with audience members.

The restaurant chain Hamburger Mary’s is suing Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida over its recently enacted ban on minors attending drag performances, claiming that the state is depriving it of its First Amendment right of free expression.

The suit, filed in federal court in central Florida, alleges that the law the governor signed into law Wednesday is so broad that it has “a chilling effect on protected speech.”

At issue is a measure the Republican-led Legislature approved in April that bars minors from attending drag shows with “lewd” performances. The governor has personally called for tighter restrictions around such shows, which he says “sexualize” children.

The plaintiffs of the suit, however, argue that Florida’s law is too broad and could encompass “even the most innocent drag performances.”

Hamburger Mary’s also asked a judge to grant a temporary restraining order to halt the state from implementing the law.

The DeSantis administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this year, the DeSantis administration filed a complaint against the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation after the group hosted an all-ages “Drag Queen Christmas” that the state alleged was explicit. Undercover state agents who attended the show, however, “did not witness any lewd acts such as exposure of genital organs,” and “the performers did not have any physical contact while performing to the rhythm of the music with any patrons,” according to a state incident report revealed by the Miami Herald.

During the legislative session, Democrats argued that the legislation was meant to scare drag performers and the LGBTQ community overall. It followed similar action in Tennessee, which this year also passed a law to restrict drag performances.

The lawsuit is also the second filed on Monday. The ACLU of Florida, on behalf of a group of Chinese citizens, sued Florida to block a law barring citizens from China, Venezuela, North Korea and a handful of other countries from owning property in Florida.


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