The Tennessee drag ban is a constitutional violation, ruled a federal judge in the state in this Friday, two months after the law was passed.

The Tennessee drag ban is a constitutional violation, ruled a federal judge in the state in April.

Tennessee’s new law, titled the Adult Entertainment Act, was set to come into effect on Saturday, April 1st. It would have banned ‘adult cabaret performances’ from any public property, or anywhere minors are legally allowed to be. Venues which broke the law could be stripped of alcohol or business licenses, and performers could be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony. The law specified that any ‘male or female impersonators’ would be classified as a form of adult cabaret (with no mention of stage performance, meaning that simply wearing drag in public could qualify), and changed the state’s definition of adult cabaret to mean “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors,” instead of merely “adult-oriented performances.” That’s a deliberate choice to influence voters, as anyone objecting to the new law can be painted as in favor of harming minors.

Governor Bill Lee signed off the Tennessee drag ban, but before it could take affect, a Memphis-based LGTBQ theater company, Friends of George’s, sued to stop it. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas L. Parker, a Trump appointee, sided with the plaintiffs and issued an injunction to halt the new law.

This Friday, Justice Parker issued his ruling on the matter, calling the law unconstitutional because it is “substantially overbroad,” and encourages “discriminatory enforcement.”

“There is no question that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. But there is a difference between material that is ‘obscene’ in the vernacular, and material that is ‘obscene’ under the law,” Parker said.

“Simply put, no majority of the Supreme Court has held that sexually explicit — but not obscene — speech receives less protection than political, artistic, or scientific speech,” he said.

The Tennessee drag ban is the second law targeting gender-nonconformity to pass in the state this year, along with a law banning most gender-affirming care for both adults and minors.

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