Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is seeking to revoke a Miami hotel’s liquor license for performing a Christmas-themed drag show in the presence of children.
“A Drag Queen Christmas” took place on December 27 at the Hyatt Regency Miami hotel as part of a larger tour of Christmas-themed drag shows. The tour featured several stars of the Emmy-winning competition show «RuPaul’s Drag Race» and took place in 36 US cities. Minors were allowed if accompanied by an adult.
In a 17-page complaint filed Tuesday with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Alcohol and Tobacco Division, which the department shared with NBC News, the DeSantis administration argued that the hotel violated Florida statutes on lewdness. when presenting the program.
The complaint cites a 1947 state Supreme Court case that found that «men posing as women» constituted a public nuisance. It also argues that the hotel exposed the children to «simulated sexual activity and lewd, vulgar and indecent displays.»
«The nature of the Show’s performance, particularly when performed in the presence of young children, corrupts public morals and outrages a sense of public decency,» the complaint states.
Amir Blattner, general manager of Hyatt Regency Miami, said in a statement that the hotel is reviewing the complaint and that its «liquor license remains valid.»
The hosts of “A Drag Queen Christmas” — “RuPaul’s Drag Race” stars Trinity the Tuck and Nina West — did not immediately respond to NBC News’ requests for comment.
Trinity the Tuck appeared to address the complaint on social media Tuesday night, writing on Instagram: «If you’re not as outraged as the rest of the community, then you’re not really an ally!»
«This is so much more than a drag ban,» she wrote. «It’s a disguise to suppress the rights of trans people.»
Nina West called the claim «absolutely absurd» in an Instagram Story shared Wednesday.
The lawsuit against the Hyatt Regency Miami is the third the DeSantis administration has filed against a Florida venue for hosting a drag performance, and the second filed against a venue for hosting «A Drag Queen Christmas.»
In July, the administration filed a similar complaint against Miami’s R House restaurant, citing the same 1947 state Supreme Court case. And last month, the administration filed a complaint against the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation for hosting the drag event. Christmas themed.
“Sexually explicit content is not appropriate to display to children and doing so violates Florida law,” Bryan Griffin, the governor’s press secretary, said in a statement. «Governor DeSantis stands up for the innocence of children in the classroom and across Florida.»
The DeSantis administration’s efforts come as other Republican lawmakers across the country seek to restrict the centuries-old art form.
So far this year, lawmakers in at least 16 states, including Florida, have proposed legislation that would restrict drag performances, largely banning them in the presence of minors, according to an NBC News analysis. Many of the bills would fine repeat offenders thousands of dollars, and some would include prison sentences.
Tennessee is the only state to have passed such a law so far. This month, the state’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed a measure banning «adult cabaret entertainment» on public property or in places where it could be viewed by minors. Artists who break the law multiple times can be charged with a felony and sent to prison for up to six years.
Supporters of bills that restrict where and in front of whom drag performances can take place argue, like the DeSantis administration, that these measures are necessary to protect children from exposure to inappropriate entertainment.
Critics say these bills unfairly target the art form, which has deep ties to the LGBTQ community, and violate constitutional rights to free speech and free speech.
Former Florida state representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, a gay Democrat who has been an outspoken critic of the DeSantis administration, described efforts to restrict drag performances as part of «an ongoing effort to marginalize LGBTQ people and their allies.»
“These manufactured moral panics are designed to distract us from the real issues,” said Smith, who is now a special projects manager at the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida. “The same politicians who are peddling fake hysteria about drag queens and immigrants and LGBTQ people in schools have failed to solve the real problems plaguing Floridians.”
Including legislation that would limit dragging, state legislators across the country have introduced more than 400 bills that target LGBTQ rights so far this year, including 10 such bills in Florida, according to a count by the American Civil Liberties Union.