Image source: Local Memphis
Drag has been on the rise for the past few decades but now shows in Tennessee are in danger of being banned.
Reports say Tennessee Republicans want to ban drag shows on public or private property.
In a reverse turn of events, GOP members introduced a bill that would make drag appearances a crime if legislated.
Under Bill SB.3, charges range from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Although the bill is broad, it ranges from comedy to drag shows to story hours at local libraries.
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Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson makes it clear that the laws will identify those in drag.
“I don’t want to ban a theater company from doing a production of Mrs. Doubtfire in a public park,” he said.
“Most people have seen that movie where Robin Williams was dressing up as a woman. We don’t have an issue with that.”
“We do have an issue with men dressed as women simulating sex acts in public parks in front of kids.”
If approved, Johnson’s bill will change a Tennessee state law that prevents adult-oriented businesses from operating within 300 meters of a school, public park or a place of worship to include “cabaret shows for adults.”
The law stretches to exotic dancers and “male or female impersonators.”
If the bill passes through the Republican-controlled Legislature and wins Governor Bill Lee’s approval, first-time offenders could be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
Additionally, the offense is punishable by up to one year in jail and a harsh $2,500 fine.
Repeat offenders will be charged with a Class E felony, resulting in a harsher sentence for drag queens.
Finally, the sentence could go as high as six years in prison with fines of up to $3,000.
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The Tennessee Senate Majority Leader won re-election in the midterm elections and vowed to uphold the state’s conservative values.
One of Johnson’s success factors was his belief that marriage should be the sacred union of a man and a woman.
This week, Jack Johnson joined Tennessee House Majority Leader and fellow Republican William Lamberth to present a new bill.
The bill would prevent doctors from providing life-saving and gender-affirming health care to transgender young people under 18.
Republicans submit bill that would criminalize drag performances in Tennessee