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In House Debate, “Drag Queens” Choose Right to Self-Expression Over Protecting Children

A bill that would fine, suspend or revoke licenses of businesses that admit children to “adult live performances” is one step closer to becoming law.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Senators and audience members sparred for close to four hours over HB 1423, a bill designed to “keep sexual behavior away from children” according to Rep. Randy Fine (R-Brevard), the bill’s sponsor.

Rep. Fine kicked off the committee meeting by explaining that this bill is solely designed to protect our children from a growing issue that he’s personally witnessed take hold in his district – sexually explicit or lewd entertainment targeting children.

“I think we have reached a point in our society where we’re having debates over things I never even imagined we’d be debating when I ran for office eight years ago. And that's whether it’s a good idea to take little children to events of this lewd nature,” Rep. Fine stated.


Quarrelsome debate ensued between Rep. Fine and his Democrat colleagues, specifically Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orange), who asked him to explain how he can even determine what would be considered lewd or inappropriate for children, as that’s “pretty subjective,” she suggested.

“This isn’t a clinic on constitutional law,” Fine replied. He followed up by reiterating the portion of the bill that addresses her question. “I’ll read the bill again for the millionth time,” he snapped. “The measure for what is appropriate or inappropriate is defined by the three elements in The Miller Test,” he said.

The Miller Test is the primary legal test for determining whether expression constitutes obscenity and it is named after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. California (1973). Rep. Fine explained that the event in question must meet all three requirements laid out in the Miller Test in order to be considered inappropriate. The three provisions in the Miller Test include: 1) appeals to the prurient interest; 2) depicts or describes sexual conduct; and 3) lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.


Heated debate between representatives was interrupted by impassioned testimonies from several “drag queens” in the audience – all of whom decried the bill as unjust and cruel. A member of Florida Rising, an LGBT advocacy group, vehemently opposed the bill, ending his speech by saying: “I think the sponsor would love drag and should try it some time!”

A “drag queen” by the name of Baklava said: “Drag has given me an opportunity to express myself… this doesn’t have anything to do with children. This isn’t about being lewd or sexual or converting anybody,” he argued.

Baklava was followed by another cross-dressing man, Erica PC, who explained that he’s a registered Republican and only started doing drag last October due to the new legislation on the matter pushed by Republicans. “We’re not trying to go after children. This is literally about self expression for me,” he said.


Audience testimonies followed by more debate between representatives. Rep. Rudman (R-Okaloosa, Santa Rosa) declared: “This is a good bill and it’s being completely misinterpreted… You’re talking to someone who wears KISS makeup every year, I get it. But this isn’t targeting an industry or a group of adults. It’s targeting behavior in front of minors.”

Rep. Eskamani reiterated her strong opposition to the bill: “Thank you to our queens who showed up and were so vulnerable and brave. I’d never fathomed we’d be where we are today. This is the free state of Florida. We should let kids be free. Shame is very subjective.”


Rep. Fine drew the committee meeting to a close by explaining why he introduced this bill in the first place.

“A little while ago, I was notified by constituents that there was a parade for adults. But when I read the very fine print at the bottom, I saw ‘drag queen story hour.’ So I went to the website of the event and it said that the purpose of the story time was to target the gender fluidity of children. So I tweeted about it, to let my constituents know, Fine explained.

“Then, one of my son’s teachers got so upset that they literally attacked my son over a tweet his father made… only because his father was unwilling to say that promoting the imagination of the gender fluidity of children was a good idea,” he stated.

“Do what you want if you're an adult. Just because I don't want to go, I will defend your right to go to an event to the death. The question today is not why do we want to stop this. The question is why some people are so determined to do this to children.”

The bill advanced along party lines and is now heading to the House floor for final vote.