A South Florida city commissioner is practically daring Gov. Ron DeSantis to remove him from office for failing to follow a new state law governing drag shows.
As cities such as Tampa and Port St. Lucie have recently canceled LGBTQ events that feature drag queens, the city of Wilton Manors, just north of Fort Lauderdale, amended a permit so its annual Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival in mid-June would comply.
The law recently enacted by Florida’s Republican governor prohibits entertainment venues from allowing children into “adult live performances.”
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Such performances are defined as “any show, exhibition, or other presentation that is performed in front of a live audience and in whole or in part, depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, specific sexual activities, … lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts.”
While the law does not specifically target LGBTQ events or drag queens, Democrats have denounced it for doing so — typically without explaining why they believe it is appropriate for children to be subjected to sexually explicit performances.
In Wilton Manors, City Commissioner Chris Caputo said it would be impossible to prevent that since the Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival literally takes place in the heart of town.
Not only that, though, he will perform in the festival as a drag queen and dared DeSantis to yank him from office.
On Thursday, Caputo posted on Facebook: “The city did not prohibit drag performances. I will be on the city float in drag as Lady Vote. I encourage you to show your support too (Bearing in mind it’s June mid-day in FL).”
“While the Governor may believe he can Recall my Elected Position, it’s not illegal for non-government attendees to be in drag. Getting recalled would afford me the opportunity to prove in court this law is abusive, oppressive and unconsistutional (sic).”
“I maintain my position that drag is not illegal; it’s of artistic and cultural value and protected under the 1st Amendment. Join me & stand united for our rights! All (ages) are welcome. This is a family-friendly Inclusive event in Wilton Manors on June 17th.”
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Caputo expanded on those comments in an interview with the Florida Phoenix published on Friday.
“While the language is certainly vague in the bill, I certainly believe that the performances that we’ve had and expect to have in the future are of artistic and political value, that they’re not lewd in nature,” Caputo said.
“So even though this bill does carve out some scenarios where it attempts to ban certain public conduct, I don’t believe it’s the type of conduct that we’ve had at our Stonewall Prides in the past drag performances.”
“We’re not planning on banning any kids under 21,” Caputo added. “In fact, it would be impossible because this parade goes right through our downtown area. There are residents on both sides so there’s no way to be certain that there’s not minors or children who don’t live in those residents.”
“We may just take a different view than some other people, in that we don’t believe the drag that we have is a violation. We’re not going to be bullied.”
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