A federal judge has just delivered a massive legal blow to conservative Texas, ruling Senate Bill 12 – signed into law by Republican Governor Greg Abbott – as unconstitutional.
Ban on Drag Dropped
This controversial legislation aimed to bar minors from attending drag shows and restrict what it considered ‘sexually explicit’ content.
1st Amendment Protected
In a groundbreaking verdict, U.S. District Judge David Hittner has not only shattered this draconian law but has also championed the protection of First Amendment rights, marking a significant win for the LGBTQ+ community.
Too Vague to Pass
U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who presided over the case, delivered a resounding verdict, declaring the law discriminatory and overly vague.
Judge Defends Different Tastes in Entertainment
He emphasized that not all individuals have the same taste in entertainment, comparing it to personal preferences in comedy or music genres, which should not undermine First Amendment protections.
Drag Shows = Free Speech
Judge Hittner firmly asserted that drag performances are a form of expressive speech deserving constitutional protection.
On the Road to Censorship?
Judge Hittner highlighted the ‘chilling effect’ that Senate Bill 12 would have on free speech in general, asserting that this potential suppression outweighs any perceived inconvenience for the state of Texas.
Judge Hittner Stands His Ground
This decision comes after Judge Hittner temporarily blocked the law from taking effect the previous month.
Lgtbq+ Community Celebrates
The ruling was met with jubilation by LGBTQ+ advocates and drag performers alike.
Pride march organizers, who had teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), had initiated a lawsuit in a Houston federal court to challenge the law’s constitutionality.
The Work Is Not Done Yet
The ACLU Texas celebrated the outcome, expressing, “LGBTQIA+ Texans, venue owners, performers, and our allies all came together to uphold free expression in our state — and we won.”
Long Live Drag
They also noted that the work is ongoing but encouraged the celebration of this significant milestone, exclaiming, “Long live Texas drag!”
Not the First Attempt at Restricting LGBTQ+ Rights
Senate Bill 12, initially signed into law by Governor Abbott in June, was widely perceived as part of the Republican party’s broader efforts to regulate and restrict LGBTQ+ community activities.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick Livid
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a staunch Republican, defended the bill on Twitter, tweeting “SB12, which restricts children from being exposed to drag queen performances, is about protecting young children and families. This story is not over.”
Texas Attorney General Supports the Censorship
The Texas attorney general’s office had defended the legislation, which, among other provisions, prohibited “the exhibition of sexual gesticulations using accessories or prosthetics that exaggerate male or female sexual characteristics” in public.
Not the First State to Try and Ban Drag
Similar efforts to restrict drag shows have been witnessed in more than a dozen states over the past year.
Montana Set the Stage
Texas followed in the footsteps of Montana, which became the first state to explicitly ban individuals dressed in drag from reading to children at public schools and libraries.
Other States Targeting LGBTQ+ Rights
In addition, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota have all passed laws this year that regulate “adult” performances, raising concerns that they could be used to target drag shows.
Victory for Freedom of Speech
During a time when freedom of speech and other fundamental rights are being debated by all sides, this ruling not only safeguards free expression but stands as a resounding victory for the LGBTQ+ community.
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