Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suffered his third high-profile legal setback in the past month today as Judge Gregory A. Presnell of the Federal District Court in Orlando issued a preliminary injunction blocking a new DeSantis-backed law that prohibits businesses from allowing children to attend “adult performances.” DeSantis signed the bill into law just last month.
The Florida governor, who is running for the Republican nomination for president, has been an outspoken proponent of restricting LGBTQ+ rights. Of course, a big part of that has been the tug-of-war with Disney over his so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which has cost the state about 2,000 relocated jobs and a $1 billion construction project that Disney had in the works.
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“We believe in letting kids be kids,” DeSantis told a conservative Christian group recently. “And some of this stuff with like, you know, we saw with these drag shows, some of this adult entertainment, not necessarily my cup of tea.”
In his ruling, Judge Presnell agreed with the idea that existing obscenity laws already give the state the authority to protect children. He also found that the DeSantis-backed law was significantly broad enough that it restricted First Amendment rights.
The judge did not, however, strike down the law entirely, which means a lawsuit challenging the statute brought by an Orlando-area bar and restaurant will go forward.
Jeremy Redfern, a spokesperson for DeSantis, told NBC News in a statement, “Of course it’s constitutional to prevent the sexualization of children by limiting access to adult live performances.”
Earlier this week, a different judge struck down a statute that banned Florida Medicaid payments for transgender healthcare. On June 6, the same court partially blocked the state from enforcing its recent ban on people under 18 receiving gender-affirming care.
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