A Florida burger joint known for its drag shows is asking a federal court to halt enforcement of the new anti-drag bill signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last week, alleging that it violates the First Amendment.
Hamburger Mary’s in Orlando has been hosting family-friendly drag shows on Sundays for 15 years, just like it does at other locations around Texas, Colorado, California and other states.
But the restaurant’s owners say that in the wake of the law, it has been forced to tell its Florida customers that children will not be permitted to attend any of the drag shows. The new law bans anyone under 18 from attending “adult live performances.” The state can impose an array of penalties, including fines of $10,000 and the revocation of business licenses.
“The establishment ... simply cannot take the chance that their business or liquor licenses would be suspended for hosting a drag show where children attend,” reads the complaint, filed Monday.
A whopping 20% of Hamburger Mary’s bookings were canceled this past Sunday, according to the suit.
The owners argue that the new law’s phrasing unconstitutionally infringes upon free speech, stating: “The language used in the statute is meant to be and is primarily vague and indistinct.”
The complaint pointed to one passage of the law in particular that describes an “adult live performance” as an event that is “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community of this state as a whole with respect to what is suitable material or conduct for the age of the child present.”
“The inclusion of ‘community standards’ ... requires the most restrictive and conservative state’s community standards in order to avoid criminal liability,” the suit read, noting that the phrasing of “community standards” has been found to be “unconstitutionally overbroad” in the past.
“The State seeks to explicitly restrict or chill speech and expression protected by the First Amendment based on its content, its message and its messenger,” said the document, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Hamburger Mary’s got its start in 1972 in San Francisco, where it became a mainstay for the LGBTQ community, and has grown to be a small national chain, according to its website.