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State Asks Supreme Court To Reinstate Law Banning Drag Shows In Front Of Children

Florida asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to reinstate a law that makes admitting children to drag shows illegal.

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in June blocking Florida’s Protection of Children Act, which threatens to revoke licenses for or impose fines on businesses that “knowingly” admit children to “adult live performances,” finding the law likely violates the First Amendment. Secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Melanie Griffin asked Justice Clarence Thomas in an emergency application to reinstate the law.

The state is only requesting a partial stay on the injunction that would not apply to the plaintiff, an Orlando restaurant that often hosts drag performances and gay events. Florida does not believe the conduct the restaurant filed a lawsuit to protect actually violates the statute, according to the application.

“Instead, Florida now applies for a partial stay of the injunction to the extent it sweeps beyond the plaintiff and enjoins the statute universally,” Griffin’s application states. “That portion of the injunction exceeded the district court’s remedial authority.”

Failing to lift the injunction would leave Florida “powerless to enforce a law its elected representatives have enacted for the protection of its children,” according to the application. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals declined 2-1 to freeze the lower court’s injunction earlier in October.

Tennessee was the first state to pass a law banning drag shows for children in March. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the act into law on May 17. Hamburger Mary’s, the restaurant that sued, says the drag performances it has hosted since 2008 are “family friendly,” according to the lawsuit.

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