Burger Joint Sues Florida Over Anti-Drag Law, Claiming It Violates First Amendment

Hamburger Mary's claims the new law violates free speech rights and has negatively impacted business.

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Hamburger Mary's, a popular Orlando burger restaurant known for its family-friendly drag shows on Sundays, is suing the state of Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis over a new law that prohibits minors from attending such performances. The lawsuit, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel, alleges that the ban will limit free speech rights and has already hurt the restaurant's business.

According to the lawsuit, after Hamburger Mary's announced that children would no longer be allowed at any drag performances, bookings for those events dropped by 20%. The restaurant claims that it cannot risk having its business or liquor licenses suspended for hosting a drag show where children attend.

The restaurant's drag shows often feature bingo, trivia, and comedy, and the lawsuit argues that the law's ambiguity will have a chilling effect on free speech. Violating the law can result in a first-degree misdemeanor charge.

"The broad, sweeping nature of the statute, and the vagueness regarding what conduct is and is not prohibited, will have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of the citizens of Florida," the lawsuit states.

The new law is part of a series of laws passed by Governor DeSantis that target the LGBTQ community, according to CBS. SB 254 bans gender transition surgery and medication for minors, and HB 1069 defines "sex" as strictly male or female under the state's education code. An expansion of last year's Parental Rights in Education bill also prohibits teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity.

The case will be heard by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, and the lawsuit calls on the state to stop enforcing the law.

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