A federal judge on Friday temporarily stopped Tennessee from moving forward with its ban of drag show performances in public spaces and in the presence of anyone under the age of 18.
File Photo by Alexis C. Glenn/UPI | License Photo
April 1 (UPI) -- A federal judge has temporarily stopped Tennessee from moving forward with its ban of drag show performances in public spaces and in the presence of anyone under the age of 18.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Parker on Friday issued a two-week restraining order on the ban, which can be extended further.
The state's law banning "adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors...and that feature go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators, or similar entertainers," was set to take effect Saturday.
Parker's order gives him time to weigh the constitutionality of the matter after hearing three hours of arguments and testimony Thursday.
"At this point, the Court finds that the statute is likely both vague and overly-broad," the judge wrote in his 15-page decision.
He also said the state has thus far not provided a "compelling government interest" for why it seeks to enact the restrictive measures.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill into law in early March.
A lawsuit challenging the so-called drag show ban was filed by Friends of George's, an LGBTQ theater company based in Memphis.
As written, the law does not amount to a full ban on drag performances, but does designate "male and female impersonators as "adult cabaret performers."
"If Tennessee wishes to exercise its police power in restricting speech it considers obscene, it must do so within the constraints and framework of the United States Constitution," Parker wrote. "The Court finds that, as it stands, the record here suggests that when the Legislature passed this statute, it missed the mark."
"We won because this is a bad law," Mark Campbell, board president for Friend's of George's. told The Tennessean after Friday's ruling. "We look forward to our day in court where the rights for all Tennesseans will be affirmed."
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said that he had no objection to the temporary restraining order.
"This will allow the court to clarify the scope, application, and constitutionality of the statute," he said in a statement issued to media outlets. "It's important to understand the scope of this law so that it doesn't have a harmful effect on constitutionally protected expression."
Participants march along Market Street in the annual LGBT pride parade in San Francisco on Sunday. Hundreds of thousands turned out to celebrate Pride. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo