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Hamburger Mary’s prevails in lawsuit against state rule banning some drag performances at its restaurant

Written By Scott Joseph On June 26, 2023

Hamburger Mary's in downtown Orlando

A federal judge issued a temporary injunction Friday against a recently enacted Florida law that would have punished restaurants, bars and others that hosted appearances by drag performers with kids in attendance. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought by popular downtown Orlando restaurant Hamburger Mary’s, which hosts weekly events, including Gayme Time on Tuesdays and Sunday Broadway Brunch, often attended by parents who bring their children. The lawsuit was against the state, Governor Ron DeSantis and Melanie Griffin, secretary of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

After the law was passed and signed by DeSantis in May, the owners of Hamburger Mary’s reported a loss in business because patrons who were not able to bring their kids to the shows were forced to cancel reservations.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell, of Orlando, said in his written order that the law was “specifically designed to suppress the speech of drag queen performers.” In essence, they have the right to free speech even if they are lip syncing.

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Presnell also noted the that the bill rang hollow in its supposed endeavor to protect underaged kids from harmful performances noting that Florida law allows children to attend R-rated movies if accompanied by an parent or guardian. He also pointed out that the poorly written legislation failed to define what a child is.

A spokesman for the state said it would appeal the ruling. Hamburger Mary’s was represented by lawyers who had won a similar case in Tennessee last month.

Here is a link to the full ruling.

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