The First Amendment isn’t disposable, says a new ruling from a Texas judge against anti-drag laws. In a major win for the LGBTQ+ community, a federal judge in Texas has shut down S.B.12, a controversial law taking aim at drag performers. U.S. District Judge David Hittner declared the law unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction, preventing state officials from enforcing it. This decision is a legal triumph for freedom of expression and a blow to those pushing an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda.
Judge Hittner’s ruling emphasizes the artistic value of drag performances, describing them as a mix of emotions, humor, and social commentary on gender roles. He highlighted the obvious—drag shows are a form of art intended for entertainment and as such deserve protection under the First Amendment. The judge’s stance aligns with the growing consensus that S.B.12 curtails free speech and infringes on constitutional rights, marking a crucial victory in a state known for its anti-woke stance.
Initially signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott in June, S.B.12 faced criticism for penalizing performers who deviated from traditional gender presentations. The bill’s language was later amended to focus on “the exhibition of sexual gesticulations using accessories or prosthetic that exaggerate male or female sexual characteristics.” Despite attempts to narrow the scope, concerns lingered that the law could be wielded against drag performers and the broader LGBTQ+ community.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, a vocal supporter of S.B.12, insisted on the bill’s necessity to shield children from drag queen performances. But as the judge’s ruling underscores, the true aim of such laws appears to be an encroachment on personal freedoms rather than the protection of children.
The fear that laws like S.B.12 instill in the trans and gender non-conforming community cannot be overstated. While the bill focused on performances, its ambiguity left room for potential harassment and punishment. Judge Hittner’s decisive ruling reaffirms that these laws are not about limited government or freedom; they are an affront to the fundamental rights of Americans. This victory sends a clear message that attempts to stifle expression and target marginalized communities will not be tolerated.