Florida Restaurant Sues Over State Ban On Kids at Drag Shows

Emma Campbell | May 23, 2023
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A Florida restaurant and drag show venue is suing the state government on claims that not allowing children to attend their “family friendly” shows hurts the restaurant’s business.

Owners of Orlando drag show restaurant Hamburger Mary’s Bar & Grille announced Monday that they had filed a lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the State of Florida over the “Protection of Children Act” (SB 1438), claiming the legislation is in violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by suppressing their expression. The restaurant says that not allowing children to attend their “family friendly” drag shows hurts their business, citing a 20 percent dip in Sunday reservations after the new law was passed. The restaurant previously hosted “family friendly” drag show brunches each Sunday before changing to comply with the restrictions of this new legislation.

Hamburger Mary’s is seeking an injunction to temporarily stop the enforcement of the law, preventing it from taking effect while their case moves forward. In a Facebook post announcing the action, the owners of Hamburger Mary’s said that the new law “demonized” the drag community.

Related: LGBT Groups Cancel All Fla. Pride Parades After DeSantis Signs Legislation Banning Minors at Adult-Themed LGBT Events

“This bill has nothing to do with children, and everything to do with the continued oppression of the LGBTQ+ community,” the post said.

DeSantis signed the “Let Kids Be Kids” bill package May 17, which included five pieces of legislation aimed at providing Florida children “a childhood free from indoctrination with confusing concepts like gender identity, forced pronouns and males competing in women’s sports,” according to a news release from the governor’s office. The Protection of Children Act is part of the bill package, and restricts people from “knowingly admitting a minor to an adult performance.” Failure to comply can result in the suspension or revocation of business or liquor licenses, or having to pay steep fines.

Hamburger Mary’s Bar & Grille is a national chain restaurant with more than a dozen locations around the U.S., four of which are located in Florida.

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