Drag show burger restaurant files suit against Florida and Gov. DeSantis : NPR
A popular Orlando burger restaurant known for its regular drag shows is suing the state of Florida and its governor, Ron DeSantis — arguing that the state’s new law that targeting drag shows violates First Amendment rights.
The owners of Hamburger Mary’s in Orlando said their First Amendment rights were violated after DeSantis signed a bill, SB 1438last week restricting children from attending certain draw shows, according to a federal lawsuit obtained from NPR.
The restaurant location in Orlando is asking the court to block the implementation of the new state law. Other Hamburger Mary locations throughout Florida and the rest of the United States are not part of the suit.
“It appears from the actions of the State of Florida, that it intends to consider drag shows as a public nuisance, lewd, disorderly, sexually explicit involving public exposure and obscene and that it is necessary to protect children from this art form, despite evidence to the contrary,” the lawsuit says.
The owners of Hamburger Mary’s in Orlando said the establishment has been regularly hosting drag shows since 2008.
In the lawsuit they argue that the drag performances are appropriate for children and that there is no lewd activity, sexually explicit performances, disorderly conduct, public exposure, obscene exhibition, or anything inappropriate for children to watch.”
The owners also claim the new Florida law is too vague, and claim their bookings dropped 20% after the restaurant, cautiously, told customers this month that they couldn’t bring the kids to drag shows anymore.
Florida state Sen. Clay Yarborough, the bill’s sponsor, and DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to NPR’s request for comment on the lawsuit.
The owners of Hamburger Mary’s declined NPR’s request for an interview. In a statement posted on Facebook, the owners explain their decision after opening the case.
“This bill has nothing to do with children, and everything to do with the continued oppression of the LGBTQ+ community,” Hamburger Mary’s Orlando he said in a statement.
“At all our times [legislators] want to demonize a group, they say they are coming for your children. In this case, creating a false narrative that drag queens are encouraging and recruiting your children with no factual basis or history to support ALL of these accusations!” adds the statement.
Florida’s new law, called the “Child Protection” act, prohibits children from attending any “live performance for adults.”
“Live performance for adults” is described in the law as “any show, exhibition, or other presentation before a live audience that, in whole or in part, depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities. … or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitalia or breasts.”
Those found in violation of the new law could face prosecution, in addition to thousands of dollars in fines and having their licenses revoked.
The law is just one of several anti-LGBTQ+ related topics that have been introduced by Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature this session.
Last week, DeSantis signed into law a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, restrictions on discussion of “preferred pronouns” in schools and restrictions on using bathrooms that do not match one’s assigned gender at birth.
More than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in 2022 during state legislative sessions. However, only 29 of those bills were signed into law.