A federal judge in Tennessee has declared the state’s anti-drag law as unconstitutional. The law was the first of its kind in the country. The ruling, which was made by U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker, has come as a relief for supporters of Pride. Parker stated that the law was too vague and overly broad, and it encouraged discriminatory enforcement. The judge further argued that the law violated Americans’ First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of expression.
Parker did distinguish obscenity, which proponents of the law thought would help keep it intact, but the judge struck that down. He explained that “there is no question that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. But there is a difference between material that is ‘obscene’ in the vernacular, and material that is ‘obscene’ under the law.” The judge further added that “no majority of the Supreme Court has held that sexually explicit — but not obscene — speech receives less protection than political, artistic, or scientific speech.” Therefore, it is not illegal for adults to talk about sex or dress in drag in front of children.
The law banned public drag/cabaret performances where children could see them. However, with the Pride demonstrations going on throughout the state this weekend, the law could have created problems. The judge, who was appointed by Trump, brought up a hypothetical example of a woman dressing as/impersonating Elvis and said that a situation like that could be prosecuted under this law. While Parker acknowledged that the state had an express and righteous interest to protect its minors, he stated that putting a law like this on the books wasn’t the way.
Implications for Pride Organizers
The ruling is a significant victory for local Pride organizers in Tennessee, who have reported receiving threats from various hate groups in recent weeks as they were planning their parades and events. With the court’s decision, supporters of Pride are expected to hit the streets en masse with some rejuvenated force. However, it remains to be seen how the public will react to the ruling.
The federal judge’s ruling on Tennessee’s anti-drag law is a significant victory for supporters of Pride. The law was declared unconstitutional, as it was too vague and overly broad. The judge argued that the law violated Americans’ First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of expression. The ruling has come as a relief for local Pride organizers in Tennessee, who have reported receiving threats from various hate groups in recent weeks. With the court’s decision, supporters of Pride are expected to hit the streets en masse with some rejuvenated force.