Obama-Appointed Judge Halts Tennessee City Ordinance Banning Drag Shows From Public Spaces

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Waverly Crenshaw Jr., appointed by Barack Obama, has halted a Murfreesboro, Tennessee ordinance barring drag shows from taking place in public spaces.

The judge’s decision clears the way for drag shows at the Pride Festival in Murfreesboro next weekend.

The decision comes after the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), founder and host of the annual BoroPride Festival.

In 2022, conservatives pointed to the festival’s drag show sexualizing children, but the organizers argued that the performer was “fully clothed.”

“We are relieved that the court has taken action to ensure that Murfreesboro’s discriminatory ordinance will not be enforced during the BoroPride festival,” Chis Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, said in a statement. “We look forward to a safe, joyful celebration of Murfreesboro’s LGBTQ+ community.”

American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, ACLU, Ballard Spahr, and Burr Forman issued the following joint statement:

“We are grateful that the court has temporarily blocked the anti-LGBTQ+ ordinance and protected the free speech and expression of Murfreesboro residents and drag performers during the BoroPride Festival. This festival creates a safe space to celebrate the freedom of self-expression and cultivates community, solidarity, and joy among LGBTQ+ community members. LGBTQ+ people should not have to live in fear of being targeted by their local elected officials and we will continue to protect this space and the free speech rights of Murfreesboro residents until this ordinance is struck down for good.”

The state banned “male or female impersonators” and exotic dancers from performing in the presence of minors in March. The law was struck down in June when a judge decided that it violated the First Amendment.

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