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Choose pauses Tennessee legislation limiting drag performances day earlier than it was set to take impact

CNN  — 

A federal decide in Tennessee on Friday briefly blocked the state from imposing a ban on public drag present performances, hours earlier than the brand new legislation was set to take impact.

US District Courtroom Choose Thomas L. Parker issued an order delaying enforcement of the measure for no less than 14 days as he considers whether or not the ban is unconstitutional.

“At this level, the Courtroom finds that the Statute is probably going each imprecise and overly-broad,” Parker wrote within the order, including that the state has thus far failed to offer a “compelling authorities curiosity” for why it ought to regulate drag performances so severely.

The laws – signed into legislation by Republican Gov. Invoice Lee earlier this month – seeks to restrict “grownup cabaret performances” on public property in order to protect them from the view of youngsters, threatening violators with a misdemeanor and repeat offenders with a felony. The ban particularly contains “male or feminine impersonators” who carry out in a approach that’s “dangerous to minors.” It was set to enter impact April 1.

The plaintiff – a Memphis-based theater firm referred to as Buddies of George’s, which incorporates drag performers – has alleged that the state has sought to “explicitly prohibit or chill speech and expression protected by the First Modification based mostly on its content material, its message, and its messenger.” The legislation, they argued, “targets the performers themselves, unlawfully limiting their expressive conduct not solely throughout the confines of heavily-regulated adult-oriented institutions, however nearly anyplace,” in line with the decide’s order.

The state has argued the measure just isn’t a full ban and is barely supposed to cease overtly sexual performances in entrance of minors.

However Parker wrote that “given the Defendants’ lack of a transparent reply to the Statute’s objective contemplating present state obscenity legal guidelines, together with the Events’ current filings on the Statute’s legislative historical past, the Courtroom finds that Plaintiff has made a possible case for subjecting the Statute to strict scrutiny right here.”

The plaintiff’s legal professional, Melissa Stewart, celebrated the decide’s order, saying that it “will defend the First Modification rights of not solely our purchasers, however of the LGBTQIA neighborhood throughout Tennessee, whereas we transfer ahead with the following steps on this litigation.”

CNN reached the governor’s workplace Friday evening for remark, however didn’t instantly obtain a response.

Lee’s approval of the measure – one in all practically a dozen such payments working their approach by means of GOP-led state legislatures – had made Tennessee the primary state to limit public drag present performances this 12 months.

Republicans say the performances expose youngsters to sexual themes and imagery which might be inappropriate, a declare rejected by advocates, who say the proposed measures are discriminatory in opposition to the LGBTQ neighborhood and will violate First Modification legal guidelines.

As drag tradition has more and more grow to be extra mainstream, such reveals – which regularly function males dressing as ladies in exaggerated make-up whereas singing or entertaining a crowd, although some reveals function bawdier content material – have often been the goal of assaults, and LGBTQ advocates say the payments into consideration add to a heightened state of alarm for the neighborhood.

CNN’s Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report.

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