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U.S. FEDERAL JUDGE STRIKES DOWN TEXAS DRAG BAN AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL
- Last updated: September 26, 2023
“We applaud and stand with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Baker Botts LLP and drag performers across the state in their hard work to ensure fairness and equality for all.” – Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO
“Whether or not you like drag, shouldn’t decide what we’re allowed to watch or how we’re allowed to act.” – Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas
“Today’s ruling blocks a law that threatens some of the most cherished First Amendment freedoms we all hold dear. S.B. 12 attempts to suppress drag artists and the LGBTQIA+ community, and its steep criminal and civil penalties would harm Black and Latinx transgender Texans the most.” -Chloe Kempf, Attorney at the ACLU of Texas
(Austin, TX and New York, NY – September 26, 2023) Equality Texas, the largest nonprofit in Texas focused on securing full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, and GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, are responding in support of the recent ruling of SB12 and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas’ victory to block the state’s drag ban from taking effect.
A federal judge in the Southern District of Texas ruled today SB12, the state’s drag ban, is unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction which blocks legislation from becoming law. This ruling stops state officials from enforcing any provisions of the ban. A temporary injunction was previously issued on September 1. Details about today’s ruling and quotes from the plaintiffs can be found at this link.
Drag bans have now been struck down in Tennessee, Florida, Montana and Texas. In the last year, GLAAD has documented at least 160 incidents of violence and threats against drag performances across the country. Equality Texas documented additional targeted events throughout the year, including an armed demonstration and confrontation in San Antonio, among more than 30 demonstrations against drag performances in the state alone.
Statement from Sarah Kate Ellis (she/her), President & CEO of GLAAD:
“Today’s ruling is a celebration for the LGBTQ community and those who support free expression in the Lone Star State. Texas now joins an increasing number of states whose discriminatory and baseless bans on drag performances are being recognized as unconstitutional and an attack against everyone’s freedoms. We stand with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Baker Botts LLP and drag performers across the state in their hard work to ensure fairness and equality for all and that discrimination won’t prevail.”
Statement from Brigitte Bandit (she/they), drag performer:
“I am relieved and grateful for the court’s ruling. My livelihood and community has seen enough hatred and harm from our elected officials. This decision is a much needed reminder that queer Texans belong and we deserve to be heard by our lawmakers.”
Statement from Chloe Kempf (she/her), Attorney at the ACLU of Texas:
“Today’s ruling blocks a law that threatens some of the most cherished First Amendment freedoms we all hold dear. S.B. 12 attempts to suppress drag artists and the LGBTQIA+ community, and its steep criminal and civil penalties would harm Black and Latinx transgender Texans the most. As the court recognized, S.B. 12 is also vague, overbroad, and chills entire genres of performances that are not obscene or inappropriate, from high school Shakespearean plays to the Nutcracker ballet to the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.”
Statement from Brandt Thomas Roessler (he/him), Senior Associate at Baker Botts LLP:
“I’m glad that the court recognized the constitutional rights of our clients, drag performers, and their patrons, and protected their rights to freely express an art form particularly important to LGBTQ+ people. Baker Botts is proud of its continuing commitment to pro bono work, including the advocacy of LGBTQ+ civil rights.”
Statement from Ricardo Martinez (he/him), CEO of Equality Texas:
“The power and beauty of this state is not that we all hold the same beliefs or watch the same shows, the beauty is that we can embrace each other no matter our differences. Immigrants from all over the world built this state, Germans in Fredericksburg, Vietnamese in Arlington, and Mexican families throughout the state helped build the culture and communities that make this state feel like home. Each culture, each community, brought their own entertainment, food, jokes. Just as we cherish the kolaches at the Czech Stop, so too we must embrace cultures we don’t understand. Whether or not you like sausage wrapped in dough shouldn’t decide whether or not a Czech baker can make a living in Texas. Whether or not you like drag, shouldn’t decide what we’re allowed to watch or how we’re allowed to act.”
Texas led the nation this year in a record-breaking year of proposed anti-LGBTQ legislation that would codify discrimination against LGBTQ Texans. For a comprehensive list of the bills introduced and their status, visit https://www.equalitytexas.org/
Anti-LGBTQ lawmakers this year pushed forward bans on healthcare for transgender youth, bans on inclusive education curricula that include LGBTQ issues and history, increased restrictions on transgender students participating in school sports, and bans on performances by drag artists, among other bills. For a comprehensive description of all LGBTQ-related bills pending in various states, visit https://www.
At the same time, approximately 140 pro-LGBTQ bills were filed by Texas lawmakers, demonstrating a change in tide as advocates and allies not only play defense against the barrage of harmful bills, but also outpace them with a push for bills that would benefit the lives of LGBTQ+ Texans across the state.
Research from The Trevor Project found that 86% of LGBTQ youth say the bills that were proposed in 2022 have had a negative impact on their mental health.
GLAAD’s Media Guide: State Legislation About LGBTQ People offers facts, context, and resources to journalists in pursuit of fair and accurate reporting on legislation that is proposed without evidence and against the expertise of medical, educational, and human rights professionals that would have negative effects on the dignity, equality, and physical wellbeing of LGBTQ people. Some recommended best practices in the guide include:
Include LGBTQ voices in stories about LGBTQ people and issues. If reporting on a transgender issue specifically, seek a transgender voice. GLAAD can connect you.
Elevate expertise over opinion, including facts from experts in relevant fields: healthcare, sports, education, and human rights.
Include facts and information from experts and research, rather than repeating inaccurate bill language or analysis verbatim and without challenge.
Challenge lawmakers and proponents of legislation to provide evidence and facts to support their assertions.
About Equality Texas:
We envision a Texas where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans and their families have full equality in the hearts and minds of our fellow Texans and in all areas of the law. Equality Texas works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration.
About ACLU Texas:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is a leading civil rights organization in the Lone Star State. Since our formation in 1938, we have worked in the courts, the legislature, and through public education to protect civil rights and individual liberty. Our mission is to be the unyielding guardian and promoter of freedom, justice, equality, and dignity of all people, particularly for those who are still fighting to secure the full exercise of their civil rights and liberties in Texas.
GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
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