A federal judge has extended the restraining order against Tennessee’s anti-drag ban.
Back in March, Republican governor Bill Lee signed Senate Bill 3 into law, making it the first state in the US to ban public drag shows.
Fortunately, a day before the archaic law was set to go into effect, Judge Thomas Parker issued a 14-day temporary order blocking the legislation.
The ruling was reached after the Memphis-based LGBTQ+ theatre group, Friends of George’s, filed a lawsuit against the state.
“The United States Constitution – a law that is supreme even to the Tennessee General Assembly’s acts – has placed some issues beyond the reach of the democratic process,” Judge Parker said in his statement.
“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.
“The court finds that, as it stands, the record here suggests that when the legislature passed this Statute, it missed the mark.”
Lastly, Judge Parker also called attention to the broad and inconsistent nature of the law.
“Does a citizen’s private residence count? How about a camping ground at a national park? Ultimately, the Statue’s broad language clashes with the First Amendment’s tight constraints,” he said.
On 5 April, Freinds of George’s took to Twitter to announce a new update regarding the judge’s temporary order.
“The temporary restraining order has been extended to May 26 while we continue to fight this unjust law. Thank you for being a Friend of George’s,” they wrote.
The temporary restraining order has been extended to May 26 while we continue to fight this unjust law. Thank you for being a Friend of George’s! pic.twitter.com/8QQnHLUyrw
— Friends of George’s (@GeorgesShowtime) April 5, 2023
Aside from the welcomed extension, Friends of George’s trial against the state is set for 22 May.
Tennessee isn’t the only place in the US that has targeted the drag community with harmful and dangerous legislation.
At least 14 other states – including Arizona, Oklahoma and Kentucky – have introduced laws that would ban drag shows from taking place in public spaces and/or areas where minors may be present.
Over the last few weeks, various Drag Race superstars have come together to slam the anti-drag rhetoric and legislation, including the queen of drag herself, RuPaul.
In an inspiring video, the Emmy-winning talent called out the right-wing lawmakers for “distracting us away from the real issues that they were voted into office to focus on: jobs, healthcare, keeping our children safe from harm at their own school.”
“But, we know bullies are incompetent at solving real issues. They look for easy targets so they can give the impression of being effective. They think our love, our light, our laughter and our joy are signs of weakness, but they’re wrong. That is our strength.”