Ron DeSantis’ appeal to ban Florida drag shows rejected once again

Author: Ali Condon

Florida governor Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis’ administration has suffered a legal blow this week after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked his appeal to enforce Florida’s drag ban.

The decision upholds a ruling made by District Judge Gregory Presnell, who declared in June that the drag ban did not sufficiently protect free speech and enforced an injunction.

DeSantis’ administration had appealed the ruling and requested a partial stay of the injunction, but this was rejected on Wednesday (13 October).

As a result of this week’s ruling, drag performances will continue to be legal in the state of Florida.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

It comes as a surprise to some, given the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals history of upholding anti-LGBTQ+ state legislation, such as restrictive bathroom legislations and bans on gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

The 2-1 decision was made by a panel made up of judges Adalberto Jordan, Robin Rosenbaum, and Andrew Brasher.

The joint ruling read: “The potential harms from reversing the injunction outweigh those of leaving it in place by mistake.”

While there was potential for “extraordinary harm and a serious chill upon protected speech” by reversing the injunction, the potential harms in allowing it to remain were minimal, the ruling determined.

Judge Andrew Brasher, who cast the only dissenting vote, did so with the intention of making an exception for a single restaurant, Hamburger Mary’s, which sued the state back in May.

Florida drag queen Michael "Erika Rose" Travis holds up a rainbow umbrella and wears rainbow coloured clothing as she attends an LGBTQ+ event
Drag performances in Florida have been protected once again. (Michael ‘Erika Rose’ Travis)

The Orlando restaurant, known for its family-friendly drag brunch performances, sued DeSantis’ administration over its controversial Protection of Children bill, which they argued was too vague and broad and had, as a result, affected their business and violated their free speech.

The Protection of Children bill would allow for restaurants, bars, and other venues to have their licenses revoked if they were in violation of the bill. Additionally, individuals who “knowingly” admit children to drag performances, or adult live performances, could face first-degree misdemeanor charges.

It would also prohibit local governments from issuing public permits for adult live performances.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a press conference.
Ron DeSantis’ administration was sued by Hamburger Mary’s in May. (Getty)

In his ruling, Brasher wrote: “HM’s [Hamburger Mary’s] injury is the fear of being prosecuted for violating [The Protection of Children bill].

“A preliminary injunction prohibiting state officials from enforcing that law against HM and anyone acting in concert with HM would completely remedy HM’s injury. Nothing more is necessary or appropriate.”

Florida is the latest state to have its attempts at a drag ban dashed by the courts.

This year, similar drag bans have been blocked and deemed unconstitutional in Tennessee and Texas.

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Actual Story on Pink News
Author: Ali Condon

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