The VORTEX Files Lawsuit Against State of Texas Over Drag Bill
SB12, which would go into effect Sept. 1, would ban drag and similar performances.
"Dragonfly Princess" at the VORTEX. (Photo by Steve Rogers)
AUSTIN: The Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) has filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas on behalf of the VORTEX Repertory Company, multiple LGBTQ+ chambers of commerce, and multiple individual performers. The suit alleges that Senate Bill 12 (SB12), which targets LGBTQ+ Texans, violates the civil rights and freedoms of every Texan to express themselves through performance.
“This bill is a blatant violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech,” Ashley Fernandez Dorsaneo, the criminal injustice senior supervising attorney at TCRP, said in a statement. “Texans of all backgrounds and gender identities deserve to express themselves freely, but this ban silences a broad swath of speech by all kinds of actors and performers. Similar laws have been struck down in other states, and we are confident that SB12 will not hold up in court.”
The new law, which is set to go into effect September 1, would fine businesses that host drag shows in the presence of minors with a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation. It would also prevent cities and counties from providing permits and licenses to events that include drag performances.
TCRP believes that because of the way SB12 is written, it would criminalize not only drag performances but also concerts, actors, cheerleaders, wrestlers, and other entertainers and performances.
“SB12 imposes unprecedented restrictions for our members, including small businesses and nonprofits, and jeopardizes their revenue and impacts their operations,” Tammi Wallace, the co-founder, president, and CEO of the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “We are spending valuable time and resources educating our members and the community about the severe consequences of this law, which is impacting our ability and opportunity to help small businesses and promote the Chamber’s mission.”