Federal judge temporarily blocks Florida law believed to target drag queen shows
(CNN) — A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked a new Florida law LGBTQ advocates say targets drag queen shows after a popular Orlando restaurant sued Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis over implementation of the measure, according to court documents.
US District Judge Gregory A. Presnell granted a preliminary injunction in the case filed May 22 by Hamburger Mary’s Orlando against DeSantis, claiming it lost business because of the new law, which was signed last month.
“This statute is specifically designed to suppress the speech of drag queen performers,” Presnell wrote in the order Friday. “In the words of the bill’s sponsor in the House, State Representative Randy Fine: ‘…HB 1423…will protect our children by ending the gateway propaganda to this evil – ‘Drag Queen Story Time.”’
The preliminary injunction issued by Presnell bars the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation from enforcing the new law until a ruling by a court following a trial.
The plaintiff’s attorneys had argued the language of the new law was “unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.”
The law stipulates that Florida “may fine, suspend, or revoke the license of any public lodging establishment or public food service establishment if the establishment admits a child to an adult live performance.”
The law described an “adult live performance” to be “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community of this state as a whole with respect to what is suitable material or conduct for the age of the child present.”
Violators of the law could face prosecution and thousands of dollars in fines and have their licenses revoked.
The plaintiff’s attorneys argued in the lawsuit, “It is a vague term subject to interpretation.”
In his ruling, Presnell agreed the law might violate free speech guarantees.
“It is this vague language – dangerously susceptible to standardless, overbroad enforcement which could sweep up substantial protected speech … and renders Plaintiff’s claim likely to succeed on merits.”
“We are happy that the judge sees this law as it is, an infringement on First Amendment Rights,” Hamburger Mary’s Orlando said in a statement posted on Facebook. “I encourage people to read the court’s injunction, every page, and understand the case, and put the Politics and fear-mongering aside. #dragisnotacrime”
The bill was one of several related to LGBTQ issues that quickly moved through the Republican-controlled Florida legislature this session. Last month, DeSantis signed into law new restrictions on gender-affirming treatments for minors, bathroom use and which pronouns can be used in schools.
CNN has reached out to the governor’s office, the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation and state Rep. Fine for comment.