The Adult Entertainment Act, signed by Gov. Bill Lee (R-TN) in March, provided the definition of "adult cabaret entertainment" to mean "adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors." It also said "male or female impersonators" constitutes adult cabaret among "topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers ... or similar entertainers." Theater production company Friends of George's sued District Attorney Steven Mulroy in an attempt to block any efforts to enforce the law.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker acknowledged that "scores of concerned Tennesseans" contacted him to convince him to uphold the law and confirmed that there is "a compelling government interest in protecting its minor population." However, in the case of Friends of George's, he agreed that the law could reasonably be applied to this company, which hosts a variety of drag shows.
"The Tennessee General Assembly can certainly use its mandate to pass laws that their communities demand. But that mandate as to speech is limited by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which commands that laws infringing on the Freedom of Speech must be narrow and well-defined," Parker wrote in his ruling. "The AEA is neither."
"WE WON!" Friends of George's wrote on Facebook. "Judge Parker has declared Tennessee's anti-drag law unconstitutional!"
Tennessee Sen. Jack Johnson and Rep. Chris Todd, who cosponsored the original legislation, did not respond to the Washington Examiner's request for comment. Lee and Mulroy also did not respond.
Several states, including Idaho, Kentucky, North Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma, and Utah, are considering similar drag-related restrictions. Texas passed a law banning children from sexual performances in both of its legislative chambers.