ORLANDO, FLORIDA — Democrats in Florida are fuming after Governor Ron DeSantis followed through on his promises to punish businesses who knowingly expose children to explicit sexual content.
The governor’s office announced on Friday that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is revoking Plaza Live Orlando’s liquor license after the venue permitted children to a sexually explicit performance on December 28.
The state issued a warning to Plaza Live prior to the controversial show, but the venue continued advertising the event for “all ages” and permitted entry to children.
The Florida Standard documented the obscene holiday-themed show, after pictures of the national Drag Queen Christmas Tour surfaced on social media. Cross-dressing men simulated sexual acts, while others flashed and flaunted fake breasts. The men accepted cash tips from children as young as nine years old.
Another disturbing scene featured a performer simulating a self-administered abortion. The state’s administrative complaint said that one of the children in attendance appeared to be younger than six years old.
“Governor DeSantis stands to protect the innocence of children, and the governor always follows through when he says he will do something,” Press Secretary Bryan Griffin said in a statement.
The governor’s action drew the ire of Democrat Congressman Maxwell Frost, who defended the show’s content.
“We’ve got to call this what it is: FASCISM in action,” Frost wrote in a tweet. “Queer celebration is anything but obscene. We cannot tolerate DeSantis and his attempt to erase our communities. I wholeheartedly condemn this attack and remain in solidarity with our beautiful LGBTQ+ family in Orlando.”
Democrat State Rep. Anna Eskamani suggested it was a first amendment violation and labeled the action “a part of the Governor’s sick anti-LGBTQ+ agenda.”
“These anti-LGBTQ+ attacks are nothing new,” Eskamani wrote in a tweet. “For decades, extremists have used harmful rhetoric to attack LGBTQ+ people and build their own power at the expense of others. We will not let extreme politicians drag us backward.”
Eskamani’s friend and former lawmaker Carlos Smith called the punishment “an extreme abuse of regulatory power.”
FASCISM OR GROOMING?
Independent journalist Tayler Hansen, whose undercover reporting of the Drag Queen Christmas tour went viral, mocked Frost’s ad hominem attack on the governor.
Hansen, who lives in Texas, also applauded DeSantis and criticized his governor, Greg Abbott, for not taking action against venues that permitted children to attend the show.
“Incredibly embarrassing that this was originally exposed in Texas and @GregAbbott_TX didn’t do anything,” Hansen tweeted. “Florida then gets the watered down version and @RonDeSantisFL revoked the venues liquor license. One of these states Governors knows how to lead, and it’s not Texas.”
The Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation Board of Directors said in a statement: “The Plaza Live has always been a welcoming and inclusive establishment that operates in good faith and compliance with all applicable laws. That includes respecting the rights of parents to decide what content is or is not appropriate for their own children.”
The statement added that the organization is “working with our legal team to evaluate and respond appropriately.”