State AG appeals federal judge’s decision to allow public drag shows in Tennessee

Published: Jun. 30, 2023 at 4:16 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti has filed an appeal after U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker ruled earlier in the month that a statewide public drag show ban is unconstitutional.

The nonprofit LGBTQ+ theatre company Friends of George’s won its case challenging Tennessee’s first-of-its-kind ban on public drag shows on June 2.

The law intended to ban “adult performances” in places where children could see it.

Judge Parker, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, described the law as “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad” and encouraged “discriminatory enforcement.”

Parker used the example of a female performer wearing an Elvis Presley costume and mimicking the iconic musician who could be at risk of punishment under the drag law because they would be considered a “male impersonator.”

General Skrmetti filed an appeal against the injunction Friday.

“The language defining ‘harmful to minors’ that the court found unconstitutionally vague has appeared in various parts of the Tennessee code for 33 years and is found in other laws that prevent adults from grooming kids with pornography, strip clubs from opening next to schools, and schools from letting kids access pornography on the school internet,” General Skrmetti said. “We’re appealing to ensure Tennessee’s laws continue to protect Tennessee’s kids.”

The appeal can be read in its entirety here.

“If the Tennessee Attorney General wants to appeal this ruling, we are more than happy to embarrass him again,” said Attorney Brice Timmons, representing Friends of George’s. “What fool would devote resources to this while children are sleeping on the floors of DCS offices in Tennessee? Shame on him.”

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