Tennessee Drag Ban Law: Judge Temporarily Blocks Law
A federal judge in Tennessee on Friday temporarily suspended the state’s new law that criminalizes certain drag performances, hours before it goes into effect.
Judge Thomas Parker cited constitutional protections for free speech in issuing a temporary restraining order.
“If Tennessee wishes to exercise its policing power in restricting speech it considers obscene, it must do so within the bounds and framework of the United States Constitution,” Parker wrote.
“The Court finds that, as it stands, the record here suggests that when the Legislature passed this statute, it missed the mark,” he wrote.
Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, signed the new bill into law on March 2. It was to come into effect on Saturday.
The first law of its kind prohibits “adult cabaret entertainment” on public property or in places where it could be viewed by a minor.
The law has sometimes been referred to as a slip ban.
Friends of George’s, Inc., which is a Memphis-based LGBTQ theater company, sued the law and called it unconstitutional.
“This law threatens to force a theater troupe into a nightclub because Tennessee lawmakers believe they have the right to make up their own minds about the introduction of the law,” argues the troupe. theater in his complaint. “The plaintiff’s other option is to proceed as planned, knowing that the Friends of George drag performers could face criminal, if not criminal, charges.”
Proponents say the law protects children from exposure to inappropriate entertainment.
The state attorney general’s office, as well as an attorney with the office listed as representing Lee and Tennessee in the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday evening.
George’s friends tweeted that the restraining order was the first step in an ongoing battle.
“We won because it’s bad law,” Mark Campbell, chairman of Friends of George’s board, said in a statement. He said the group is looking forward to their day in court.