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ACLU condemns ‘drag’ show proposal as part of national effort to ‘push LGBTQ+ people out of public life’

By: - January 12, 2023 6:30 pm

State Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil (Courtesy Unicameral Information Office)

LINCOLN — A bill introduced Thursday in the Nebraska Legislature to block minors from attending “drag” shows was condemned as part of the culture war against the LGBTQ+ community.

“Let’s call this what it is — an unconstitutional censorship attempt rooted in a coordinated national effort to push LGBTQ+ people out of public life,” said Jane Seu, the legal and policy counsel for the ACLU of Nebraska.

Legislative Bill 371, introduced by State Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil and eight other senators, would bar persons under 19 years of age from attending a drag show and block those under 21 from attending such shows where alcohol is served.

The bill also establishes fines of up to $10,000 for establishments that allow under-aged persons to attend a drag show and makes it a misdemeanor crime, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, for an adult to allow a minor to attend.

State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha
State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha (Courtesy of Unicameral Information Office)

The Nebraska proposal comes after similar bills banning minors from attending drag shows have been introduced in several states, including Missouri, Arizona and Texas.

Drag shows feature performers singing or dancing in elaborate costumes and makeup impersonating men or women.

While proponents maintain that it is harmless, fun entertainment, critics say such shows are inappropriate for minors, involving “perverted” and “hyper-sexualized” adults trying to sexualize young people.

Controversy and protests have spread across the county, with several shows featuring “drag queens” cancelled in recent months.

A shooting at a drag show at a Colorado Springs lounge in November left five dead and 17 wounded. One story time in California featuring drag performers was disrupted by the far-right Proud Boys group in July.

Shortly after LB 371 was introduced, Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt, the first openly LGBTQ candidate elected to the State Legislature, filed a motion to kill the bill.

The ACLU of Nebraska, in a press release, said LB 371 would be a violation of free speech.

“Drag is a visual expression and creative celebration of LGBTQ+ culture,” Seu said. “It has been a part of the creative community for centuries and this bill would have far-reaching implications on the historical tradition of artistic freedom.”

 

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.

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