Famous drag show burger joint sues Florida, claims business took a big hit since kids aren’t allowed

An Orlando, Florida business named Hamburger Mary’s is carping that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new bill that prohibits children under the age of 18 from attending sexually explicit drag shows is hurting its business, evidently because drag queens and twerking are central to the establishment making money.

(Video Credit: WKMG News 6 ClickOrlando)

The restaurant is famous for its burgers and drag shows. There are a dozen Hamburger Mary’s Bar & Grille locations across the nation, with four that are located in Florida. The Orlando restaurant has been a fixture on Church Street for over a decade and has previously hosted a family-friendly drag brunch on Sundays.

The “Protection of Children Act,” SB 1438, fines and penalizes venues that allow children to attend an “adult live performance” by suspending or revoking their business licenses. “Adult live performance,” as defined in the bill, means any show, exhibition, or other presentation in front of a live audience that, in whole or in part, depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities.

Hamburger Mary’s is crying foul, claiming that business has dropped by 20% since customers were informed they can’t bring children, ClickOrlando reported.

They are suing the state of Florida and DeSantis over it in federal court claiming that the bill violates their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The owners of the establishment are saying that the state’s law is too vague and broad to satisfy the requirements of the First Amendment and that it has a chilling effect on protected speech.

(Video Credit: Hamburger Mary’s Wilton Manors)

“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 charges.

The owners of Hamburger Mary’s say that when they told their customers that children would no longer be permitted at any of its drag shows, bookings in May drastically fell.

Attorney Gary Israel contends that drag venues such as Hamburger Mary’s are worried about operating within the scope of the law due to the demands of recent legislation like SB 1438.

“That’s what happens when the government makes people and businesses too scared to do legal things because of the potential consequences,” Israel commented. “Luckily, we have courts in this country, and the federal courts are bound to uphold the U.S. Constitution.”

“This bill has nothing to do with children, and everything to do with the continued oppression of the LGBTQ+ community,” owner Michael Rogier wrote in a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

In the post, Rogier asserts that Florida lawmakers are “creating a false narrative that drag queens are grooming and recruiting your children with no factual basis or history to back up these accusations.”

The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to block the implementation of the new law.

Some Pride events have been canceled in Florida due to the new law, including one in St. Cloud. Many parents believe that is a good thing because they don’t want their children exposed to sexually explicit displays that could potentially occur at the events.

Republican state Rep. Randy Fine says the bill is not vague in the least and if they follow the law they have nothing to worry about.

“It’s not unclear at all. What’s clear is you have a business in Orlando saying they will go out of business if they cannot do sex shows for children. That is stunning,” he told NBC WESH 2.

Gov. DeSantis signed a number of new bills into law on Wednesday, including a ban on transgender treatments for children and legislation regarding the use of pronouns in schools.

“I feel very strongly as governor, but also just as a dad of a 6 or 5 and a 3-year-old that you know, we need to let our kids just be kids. And we have a very crazy age that we live in,” DeSantis said. “There’s a lot of nonsense that gets floated around. And what we’ve said in Florida is we are going to remain a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy.”

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