A federal judge has temporarily suspended Tennessee’s first-of-its-kind law in the country, placing severe limits on raffle offers just hours before it goes into effect.
US District Judge Thomas Parker sided with a group that brought a lawsuit claiming the law violated the First Amendment.
The decision comes after Memphis-based Friends of George’s, an LGBTQ+ theater company, filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy and the state.
Parker issued the temporary injunction after hearing arguments from both sides on Thursday.
The state fails to make a convincing case for why Tennessee needs the new law, Parker writes, adding that the court also agrees that the law is likely to be overly vague and broad.
The word “drag” does not appear in the new law, which instead changed the definition of adult cabaret in Tennessee to mean “performances directed at adults that are harmful to minors.”
A federal judge blocked Tennessee’s first-of-its-kind law, which severely limits sweepstakes offers, just hours before it went into effect (file photo)
Cameron Michaels performing on stage on RuPaul’s Drag Race Werq The World Tour at Ryman Auditorium this past August in Nashville, Tennessee (file photo)
U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker issued a temporary order after hearing arguments from both sides on Thursday
Furthermore, “male or female impersonators” are now classified as a form of adult club, similar to strippers, topless dancers, and exotic dancers.
The law prohibited cabaret performances for adults from public property or anywhere minors might be present. Performers who break the law run the risk of being charged with a misdemeanor or felony for repeat offence.
“The law prohibits a drag artist wearing a crop top and mini skirt from dancing where minors may see it, but it does not prevent a Tennessee Titans cheerleader in an identical uniform from performing the exact same dance in front of children,” the initial complaint says. .
Parker also included concerns that go along with the group’s argument that the law was overly broad, as he questioned the site’s specification for a cabaret entertainment venue that might be seen by a minor.
Do you count the private residence of a citizen? How about a camping ground in a national park? Parker Books. “Ultimately, the broad language of the statute runs counter to the strict First Amendment restrictions.”
A judge has issued a temporary injunction after a Memphis-based LGBTQ+ theater company filed a federal lawsuit against Shelby County DA and the state in Tennessee (file photo)
The complaint also details efforts last year to prevent a drag show at a park in Jackson, west of Nashville, as part of the Pride Festival. A legal complaint led by Republican Representative Chris Todd and Republican Senator Ed Jackson sought to block the show, forcing the organizers to reach a settlement to hold the event indoors with an age restriction.
After abusing state courts to violate Jackson Pride’s First Amendment rights, Rep. Todd was asked to create legislation that would make this even clearer — that performing dragging in front of children is a violation of Tennessee law, the complaint says.
Parker cited Todd’s actions in his decision Friday, saying the state attorney general’s office failed to give a clear answer about the purpose of the new law given Tennessee’s existing obscenity laws.
During Thursday’s hearing, Mulroy told the judge he did not contest a temporary restraining order.
“There has been a lot of concern and confusion about the law on the part of the community,” Mulroy said in a statement.
The lawsuit alleged that the law violated the First Amendment with the judge’s ruling likely being vague and broad and not making a convincing case for the necessity of the new law (file photo)
Drag queens spend up to five hours perfecting their hair, makeup, and outfits before each show
This will allow the court to clarify the scope, application and constitutionality of the law. It is important to understand the scope of this law so that it does not have a detrimental effect on constitutionally protected expression.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Tennessee’s draft law is the second major proposal targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ+) people passed by state legislators this year. Republican Governor Bill Lee signed a GOP-backed law banning most gender affirming sponsorships.
Lee has faced criticism for approving the anti-sweepstakes law, especially since a photo of him as a high school student dressed in women’s clothing surfaced in 1977.
Lee described comparing the two issues as “ridiculous”.
When asked about specific examples of inappropriate drag shows occurring in front of children, Lee did not mention any, but said he was concerned about protecting children.
Drag Queen Josh Hanson, who plays ‘Candy Caned’, makes his way backstage as he prepares to perform in ‘Queenz – The Show With Balls’ at the Blackpool Grand Theater as part of the show’s UK tour in Blackpool, in the north of England ( image file)