A federal judge’s ruling that drag shows in front of children in Tennessee will go on after declaring the state’s first-in-the-nation law banning them as unconstitutional has been met by applause and cheering from LGBTQI+ advocates.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Parker outlined in his 70-page ruling that “despite Tennessee’s compelling interest in protecting the psychological and physical wellbeing of children,” the law known as the Adult Entertainment Act is an “unconstitutional restriction on the freedom of speech.”
Parker also set out the law was both “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad” and encouraged “discriminatory enforcement.”
The law would have banned adult cabaret performances from public property or anywhere minors might be present. Performers who broke the law risked being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony for a repeat offense.
Tennessee lawmakers passed the original bill earlier this year, as Breitbart News reported.
The bill classified “male and female impersonators” as adult cabaret performers, while also banning “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors.”
Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill into law in early March.
It was set to take effect that month until it was blocked by Parker, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Donald Trump.
WATCH: Lizzo Brings Drag Queens on Stage to Protest TN Legislation Banning Drag Shows Around Kids@SuperWomanWendy / POP NATION /TMX
A Memphis-based theater group, Friends of George’s, applauded the ruling.
“This win represents a triumph over hate,” the group said in a statement issued to media outlets Saturday.
“Our first amendment rights were affirmed today as drag artists and makers of theatre. Similar to the countless battles the LGBTQ+ community has faced over the last several decades, our collective success relies upon everyone speaking out and taking a stand against bigotry.”
GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQI+ media advocacy organization also approved.
Drag artist Vidalia Anne Gentry at a news conference held by the Human Rights Campaign to draw attention to anti-drag bills in the Tennessee legislature, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023 in Nashville, Tenn. A federal judge says Tennessee’s first-in-the-nation law designed to limit drag shows is unconstitutional. In a 70-page ruling handed down late Friday night, June 2, 2023, U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker wrote the law was both “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad” and encouraged “discriminatory enforcement.” (John Amis/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign via AP, File)
“This ruling is a turning point and we will not go back,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a Twitter post. “Every anti-LGBTQ elected official is on notice that these baseless laws will not stand and that our constitutional freedom of speech and expression protects everyone and propels our culture forward.
“Congratulations and thank you to Friends of George’s and their attorneys for speaking up and fighting for everyone’s freedom. Their bravery will inspire many other challenges to discrimination.”