Florida burger joint sues DeSantis, saying his anti-drag law hurt profits by forcing it to ban kids

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Florida burger joint sues DeSantis, saying his anti-drag law hurt profits by forcing it to ban kids
The Hamburger Mary burger franchise in Orlando is pictured on Wednesday, July 29, 2020,Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
  • An Orlando Hamburger Mary's location is suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
  • It says DeSantis' anti-drag law is hurting business, and is an affront to free speech.
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Hamburger Mary's Orlando, part of the burger franchise known for its drag acts, is suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over a bill that bans children from attending "adult" performances.

In a lawsuit filed in a Florida court Monday, the restaurant says the law "seeks to explicitly restrict or chill speech and expression protected by the First Amendment."

The restaurant in a Facebook post said that the bill "has nothing to do with children, and everything to do with the continued oppression of the LGBTQ+ community."

The suit was filed by the Orlando branch. Hamburger Mary's has other outlets both in Florida and the rest of the US that aren't part of the suit.

Under the bill, SB 1438, signed into law last week by DeSantis, restaurants can be fined, and have their trading and alcohol licenses suspended or revoked if they admit children to so-called "adult performances."

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The Orlando restaurant said in the lawsuit, reported Politico, that the law had hammered business for its Sunday brunch family-friendly drag act, and that booking were down by 20% after it said that kids would no longer be allowed to attend.

"The language used in the statute is meant to be and is primarily vague and indistinct. It does not mention "drag" by name but it is so broad as to include this art form in the state's interpretation under the newly created or amended laws in question," the lawsuit said.

DeSantis has signed a series of anti-LGBTQ bills into law as he stirs rumors of a bid for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination.

Last year his so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill prohibited schools discussing sexual orientation with children. The bill was criticized by Disney, leading to an escalating feud between DeSantis and the entertainment giant's CEO, Bob Iger.

Activists say the laws are an attack on LGBTQ rights, and several Pride events in Florida planned for this months have been cancelled in the wake of SB 1438 coming into force, according to local media reports.

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