After being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, a federal judge barred a Tennessee district attorney from enforcing the state’s legislation protecting children from sexually explicit acts before of a “Pride” celebration.
The decision comes after the ACLU filed a lawsuit this week against Blount County DA Ryan Desmond, who told Blount County Pride that any graphic performances in front of children would be prohibited at a “Pride” event on September 2 just south of Knoxville. Video of explicit drag performances with children present and watching has emerged from “Pride” gatherings across the country.
“It is certainly possible that the event in question will not violate any of the criminal statutes,” Desmond said. “However if sufficient evidence is presented to this office that these referenced criminal statutes have been violated, our office will ethically and justly prosecute these cases in the interest of justice.”
Desmond was issued a temporary restraining order by U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer, which prevents him from implementing Tennessee’s Adult Entertainment Act. Flamy Grant, who has been represented in the media as a “Christian” drag artist, was also a part of the litigation.
A federal judge in Memphis already halted the statute, although it might be implemented outside of Shelby County. Friends of George’s, a self-described “LGBTQ theatre company” based in Memphis, filed a lawsuit contesting the law in late June, and U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee stopped the statute.
Blount County Pride, being represented by the ACLU, claims that Desmond’s letter to the “Pride” group was “a naked attempt to chill free speech.”
“Had Defendant Desmond merely wished to notify the public that he intends to enforce the [law], he could have issued a public statement,” the lawsuit states. “Instead, he sent a letter targeting Blount Pride and the drag artists who are scheduled to perform,” the lawsuit from the ACLU said.
In court, an 18-state alliance and America First Legal have argued that Tennessee’s statute is important to protect children.
“Protecting children from obscene and lewd behavior is not a new idea. We need to let kids be kids, and the state has legal authority to ensure their protection,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a news release.
It is time for states to begin disregarding the federal government, and when they try to arrest our state leaders who are standing up for us, we must be present to prevent it. Whatever happens, so be it.