A trial to determine whether a new Florida law against drag shows is constitutional won’t begin until next spring.
A filing released late last week in federal court in Tallahassee shows the trial won’t begin until early June 2024. It will last two days and will be decided by a judge instead of a jury.
The law endorsed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is on hold for the time being. A federal judge last month issued an injunction preventing enforcement pending trial. The State of Florida has appealed this decision.
Last week, US District Judge Gregory Presnell issued an order clarifying that the injunction applies to all Florida venues, not just the restaurant that had sued the state over the constitutionality of the law.
The new law penalizes venues that allow children to attend “live adult performances.” Though it doesn’t envisage drag shows, the bill’s sponsor said it was aimed at such performances. Venues that break the law face fines and the possibility of having their liquor license suspended or revoked. Individuals could also be charged with a misdemeanor.
The lawsuit was filed by the owner of a Hamburg-based Mary’s restaurant and bar in Orlando that regularly hosts drag shows, including Sunday family-friendly performances that children are invited to. The restaurant owner said the law was too broad, vague, and violated First Amendment rights by making chilling statements.
Before announcing his run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, DeSantis made anti-LGBTQ+ legislation a big part of his agenda as governor. Other bills he signed would ban gender-based tutoring of minors and restrict discussion of personal pronouns in schools.