A federal appeals court has rejected the Ron DeSantis administration’s appeal to enact the state’s harmful drag ban.
Back in May, the Republican governor targeted the LGBTQIA+ community, yet again, when he signed five anti-LGBTQIA+ bills into law.
One of the pieces of legislation that the conservative official signed was SB 1438, or the “Protecting Children’s Innocence” bill – which allows the state to revoke licenses from businesses if they allow children to attend “adult live performances,” such as drag shows.
Shortly after the bill was signed into law, LGBTQIA+ organisations and local queer businesses used their platforms to speak out against the hateful law – including the drag-themed bar and restaurant chain Hamburger Mary’s.
On 22 May, the popular LGBTQIA+ restaurant franchise – which has a location in Orlando, Florida – filed a lawsuit against DeSantis and the state over SB 1438’s “broad” terms.
Fortunately on 23 June, US District Judge Gregory A Presnell sided with Hamburger Mary’s and issued a preliminary injunction against the hateful law.
Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for DeSantis and his administration to try and appeal Presnell’s rulling by asking for a partial stay of the ban while the case continues in court.
However on 11 October, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the conservative official’s request by a 2-1 decision.
“The district court, in granting a preliminary injunction and denying the motion for a partial stay, did not definitively rule on the merits of the case. Today, we likewise do not conclusively resolve the merits of Secretary Griffen’s appeal,” judges Adalberto Jordan and Robin Rosenbaum said in their majority opinion.
Major victory in Florida – the 11th Circuit Court, which has been a bit of a rough one for trans issues, has blocked Florida’s drag ban from being enforced statewide.
— Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) October 11, 2023
The two judges also ruled that the restrictive law is likely unconstitutional under the First Amendment by citing other cases with similar issues.
While Jordan and Rosenbaum upheld Presnell’s injunction, their colleague Judge Andrew Brasher – who was the sole vote in favour of the partial stay – said that the anti-drag law should apply to majority of venues – except for Hamburger Mary’s
“HM’s [Hamburger Mary’s] injury is the fear of being prosecuted for violating (the law),” he wrote.
“A preliminary injunction prohibiting state officials from enforcing the 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 that has been denied the ability to enforce their heinous drag ban.
Back in June, US District Court Judge Thomas Parker struck down Tennessee’s Adult Entertainment Act – which banned drag shows – for being “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad.”
On 13 October, US District Court Judge Brian Morris upheld his previous preliminary injunction, issued in July, blocking Montana’s drag ban from going into effect, per ABC News.
“The state hasn’t argued meaningfully that the speech targeted by (the new law) beyond the obscenity already regulated – is potentially harmful to a child,” he said in his ruling.