What to know after federal judge tosses out Tennessee's anti-drag law

A federal judge tossed out Tennessee’s controversial “anti-drag” law just after midnight Friday. The law would have restricted drag performances in the state.

Judge Thomas Parker ruled the law unconstitutional after closing arguments in hearings about the state’s recent passage of the bill concluded in May.

The bill restricting "male and female impersonators" from performing in public spaces was signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee in March.

Parker sided with Friends of George’s, a Memphis-based LGBTQ theatre group that filed suit against the state shortly after Lee signed the bill into law.

Here’s what to know about the ruling.

Anti-drag law: Federal judge tosses Tennessee's controversial anti-drag law, declares it unconstitutional

What did the federal judge’s ruling say about Tennessee’s anti-drag law?

“The court finds that — despite Tennessee’s compelling interest in protecting the psychological and physical well-being of children — the Adult Entertainment Act (AEA) is an unconstitutional restriction on the freedom of speech,” Parker wrote in his ruling.

Who was named in Tennessee's anti-drag lawsuit?

Initially, the lawsuit named Lee, Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, and Shelby County District Attorney General Steve Mulroy in his capacity as the ban's enforcer in Shelby County. Lee and Skrmetti's names were later removed from the lawsuit filed by Friends of George's.

What would Tennessee’s anti-drag law would have done if enacted?

The law would not have outright banned drag performances in Tennessee but would have deemed "male and female impersonators" as adult cabaret performers. It also would have banned "adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors" from taking place on public property and in the presence of people under age 18.

Performers who broke the law could have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony on second or subsequent offenses.

How did Friends of George's get involved in the Tennessee anti-drag lawsuit?

Friends of George’s wrote on its website in March the bill imperiled the lives of "drag performers and seeks to oppress queer culture statewide."

The plaintiff’s suit advanced quickly through federal court. Parker issued a temporary restraining order on March 31 one day before the law was to be enacted on April 1.

“This win represents a triumph over hate,” Friends of George’s said in a statement Saturday after the ruling. “Our first amendment rights were affirmed today as drag artists and makers of theater. Similar to the countless battles the LGBTQ+ community has faced over the last several decades, our collective success relies upon everyone speaking out and taking a stand against bigotry.”

What is next regarding Tennessee’s anti-drag law?

Attorneys said since the state's attorney general cannot enforce the law in Shelby County, any attempts to enforce the ban in other parts of the state would likely be immediately and successfully challenged in court.

On Saturday, Skrmetti indicated through a statement that he planned to appeal the ruling and that he still considers the law to be in effect throughout the state's other 94 counties despite it being ruled unconstitutional.

Omer Yusuf covers the Ford project in Haywood County, FedEx, tourism and banking for The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached via email Omer.Yusuf@commercialappeal.com or followed on Twitter @OmerAYusuf.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: What to know after Tennessee tosses out anti-drag law