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Florida restaurant sues DeSantis over drag show restrictions


May 22 (Reuters) – A Florida restaurant that puts on what it calls family-friendly drag acts sued Governor Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida on Monday to halt enforcement of a new law banning minors from attending such shows .

Hamburger Mary’s, an Orlando bar and restaurant that presents drag shows, comedy sketches and dancing, filed the suit in federal court in response to the law the Republican governor signed last week.

Senate Bill 1438 allows the state to fine or revoke the liquor license of an establishment that admits minors to a performance that “simulates nudity, sexual behavior or specific sexual activities.”

DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“This bill has nothing to do with children and everything to do with the continued oppression of the LGBTQ+ community,” the owners of Hamburger Mary’s wrote on Facebook.

The Facebook post offered a broader critique of DeSantis’ policies to eliminate books and public school courses that reference LGBTQ themes or America’s history of racial oppression, asking, “When will it stop?”

DeSantis, who is expected to announce he is seeking the Republican nomination for president this week, has pursued policies in Florida that limit LGBTQ rights.

He signed the child protection bill on the same day he also signed bills to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth and require transgender people to use bathrooms that match their sex at birth.

The lawsuit asks the court to block the law, saying it violates the constitutional right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.

“It prohibits protected speech based on the identity of the speaker,” the lawsuit states.

The law falsely targets drag shows as deviant when they have become “part of mainstream culture,” it said. “It’s a form of family entertainment that everyone enjoys.”

Report by Daniel Trotta. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Daniel Trotta

Thomson Reuters

Daniel Trotta is a US National Affairs correspondent covering water/fire/drought, race, guns, LGBTQ+ issues and breaking news in America. Previously based in New York, and now in California, Trotta has covered major US news stories such as the killing of Trayvon Martin, the mass shooting of 20 first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and natural disasters, including Superstorm Sandy. In 2017, he was awarded the NLGJA Award for Excellence in Transgender Coverage. He was previously stationed in Cuba, Spain, Mexico and Nicaragua, covering top world stories such as the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States and the train bombing in Madrid by Islamist radicals.

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