(Daily Caller News Foundation) – A Florida restaurant filed a lawsuit against Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday over a newly signed law that prohibits businesses from allowing minors to attend drag shows at their venues.
DeSantis signed the “Protection of Children” bill into law on May 17 that will impose fines, suspensions or revoke licenses of businesses that allow children to be exposed to “adult live performances.” Hamburger Mary’s Orlando, a restaurant that routinely hosts drag performances and gay events, filed the lawsuit on First Amendment grounds, arguing that the law stifles free expression.
“Upon announcement that the bill had been signed and the law was in effect, Hamburger Mary’s advised its customers that children would not be permitted to attend any drag shows,” the complaint reads. “Immediately, 20% of their bookings cancelled for the May 21, 2023 show and for future bookings. They simply cannot take the chance that their business or liquor licenses would be suspended for hosting a drag show where children attend.”
Any person who “knowingly” allows a child to attend such event could face a first degree misdemeanor. The lawsuit argues that the law puts individuals “at risk of prosecution because of the content of their speech,” the complaint reads.
Hamburger Mary’s asked the court to temporarily block the state from enforcing the law, according to the complaint.
The law defines an “adult live performance” as any show that includes “nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities.” Hamburger Mary’s has been hosting drag performances since 2008 but maintains that they are “family friendly” and not not include any lewd, sexual, obscene or inappropriate content, according to the complaint.
“Drag is usually performed as entertainment and often includes comedy, singing, dancing, lip-syncing, or all of the above. Prosthetic breasts are commonly used by men impersonating women as part of the act,” the complaint reads. “Drag is not a new art form; nor is it inherently — or even frequently — indecent. Drag has been present in western culture dating back to Ancient Greek theatrical productions, where women were often not permitted to perform onstage or become actors. Instead, male actors would don women’s attire and perform the female roles.”
DeSantis said during a press conference ahead of the bill signing that having children at adult shows is “inappropriate.”
“When you have adult entertainment, when you have these sexually explicit performances, there should not be any of these kids there and this is going to make sure that that’s the case,” he said.
Hamburger Mary’s and the DeSantis office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.