U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell temporarily blocked a Florida law targeting drag performances Friday, arguing it likely violated speech protection provided under the First Amendment, delivering a blow to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and a reprieve for drag performers and businesses who claim the law is too broad.
Presnell issued a preliminary injunction that will block the law, which was passed in April by Florida’s Republican-led legislature and became effective last month.
The judge’s argument cited free speech concerns and concluded that Florida did not adequately tailor its own law.
The law prohibits minors from attending drag shows produced by establishments like Hamburger Mary’s—a restaurant chain offering live drag entertainment that also sued the state of Florida last month over the law.
Under Presnell’s ruling, the Florida Department of Professional and Business Regulation, which has moved to revoke liquor licenses of venues hosting drag shows, cannot enforce the law unless it makes it past a lower trial court.
What To Watch For
The Department of Professional and Business Regulation will need to appeal Presnell’s ruling if the law is going to be enforced again. It will have to go through the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, which has historically ruled in Florida’s favor, if it pursues an appeal.
The drag law was first signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on May 17 amid a slew of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that has been approved by the presidential candidate over the last few months. That same month, DeSantis also signed into law restrictions on gender-affirming care for minors. Several GOP-led legislatures have done the same, with states such as Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Tennessee enacting laws that restrict transgender youth from accessing certain types of gender-affirming healthcare.
Judge Rules Against Florida Law Restricting Drag Shows (The New York Times)
Federal judge rules against new DeSantis drag show law in Florida (The Washington Post)