Judge Grants Southern Utah Drag Stars Preliminary Injunction to Host Drag Show
Southern Utah Drag Stars will hold its family-friendly drag event on June 30 in St. George, Utah.
GEORGE, Utah – Last Friday, the United States District Court for the District of Utah granted Southern Utah Drag Stars’ (Drag Stars) request for a preliminary injunction to allow them to host a family-friendly drag performance on June 30, 2023. In late May, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah Foundation, Inc. (ACLU of Utah), ACLU, and the law firm Jenner & Block filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mitski Avalōx and Drag Stars against the City of St. George for denying them a special event permit for their family-friendly drag show originally scheduled for April 28. The city’s refusal to grant a permit was a part of a years-long effort to target drag performances and LGBTQ+ events in violation of the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and various provisions of the Utah Constitution.
In the ruling, released after business hours June 16th, the court found that the city of St. George’s denial of Drag Stars’ permit to host an April 28th family-friendly drag event likely violated their First Amendment rights. In doing so, the court recognized that the First Amendment’s protections extend to drag shows like the planned Allies Drag Show, especially in today’s political climate. Additionally, the court also found that the city’s actions likely violated Drag Stars’ First Amendment rights in numerous ways.
“Quite simply, drag is protected by the First Amendment. The city of St. George’s selective and discriminatory refusal to permit a family-friendly drag event impermissibly silenced LGBTQ+ Utahns and violated our client’s constitutional rights,” said Valentina De Fex, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Utah. “This ruling is a win for not just our client – who will now be able to hold an event on June 30 that celebrates inclusivity and joy – but for all people in St. George and throughout Utah. We are grateful for the court’s decisive action to disallow attempts by city officials to implement subjective viewpoints of what they deem appropriate to silence and erase LGBTQIA+ and gender diverse communities throughout the state.”
“We are very pleased that the court has decided to order the City of St. George to grant Southern Utah Drag Stars a special events permit to host their family-friendly drag show, and we will continue to fight to protect the fundamental First and Fourteenth Amendment rights that drag performers are entitled to,” said Rémi Jaffré, partner at Jenner & Block.
“By allowing Drag Stars to move forward with their event, the court recognized what has always been true: Drag is a form of expression that is protected by the First Amendment. We are very pleased that the show will go on,” said Emerson Sykes, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “This is a win not just for Drag Stars, but for all performers, the LGBTQ community, and anyone who cares about limiting government officials’ authority to impose their subjective views of what’s appropriate on all of us.”
Southern Utah Drag Stars (Drag Stars) is represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah Foundation, Inc. (ACLU of Utah), and the law firm Jenner & Block.
A copy of the preliminary injunction can be found here.
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