NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Advocates for the LGBTQ community say they’ll see Governor Bill Lee in court, following his signing of the two anti-LGBTQ bills into law Thursday.
The governor signed SB 1 and SB 3 Thursday, officially banning trans minors from receiving gender-affirming care and prohibiting certain drag shows in public or places where minors might see the performances, respectively.
The ACLU, ACLU of Tennessee and Lambda Legal issued a joint statement saying they would fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community by challenging SB 1 in court and assuring trans youth they are not alone in the Volunteer State.
“We will not allow this dangerous law to stand. Certain politicians and Governor Lee have made no secret of their intent to discriminate against youth who are transgender or their willful ignorance about the life-saving health care they seek to ban. Instead, they’ve chosen fearmongering, misrepresentations, intimidation and extremist politics over the rights of families and the lives of transgender youth in Tennessee. We are dedicated to overturning this unconstitutional law and are confident the state will find itself completely incapable of defending it in court. We want transgender youth to know they are not alone and this fight is not over.”
| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Nashville and Davidson County
All three organizations have promised legal action against SB 1, while similar restrictions in Alabama and Arkansas have been temporarily halted by federal courts. Tennessee is the fourth state in this legislative session to ban gender-affirming care for people under 18, along with Utah, South Dakota and Mississippi, according to the ACLU.
Additionally, ACLU of Tennessee Legal Director Stella Yarbrough issued a separate reaction to the signing of the anti-drag legislation.
“We are disappointed that Governor Lee chose to sign a bill that politicians intended to censor drag performances. However, I want to be abundantly clear: the law that was just signed does not make it illegal to perform drag in Tennessee. The law bans obscene performances, and drag performances are not inherently obscene.
“However, we are concerned that government officials could easily abuse this law to censor people based on their own subjective viewpoints of what they deem appropriate, chilling protected free speech and sending a message to LGBTQ Tennesseans that they are not welcome in our state.
“We will challenge enforcement of this law if it is used to punish a drag performer or shut down a family-friendly LGBTQ event.”
ACLU of Tennessee said in a statement that the legal definition of “harmful to minors” as it applies to the law is very narrow and only covers extreme sexual or violent content with no artistic value.
“Drag performances do not inherently fall into this category and are protected by the First Amendment,” ACLU of Tennessee said in the statement.
Any performers, event organizers or business owners who are negatively affected by the anti-drag law were encouraged to contact ACLU of Tennessee here.
Tennessee Equality Project Executive Director Chris Sanders also issued a statement on the governor’s signing of the bills Thursday.
“The deplorable actions of the State of Tennessee must now be tested against the Constitution of the United States. Let the lawsuits begin.”