Chief U.S. District Court Judge Waverly Crenshaw Jr., who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, has made a ruling to halt a Murfreesboro, Tennessee ordinance that prohibited drag shows from being held in public spaces. This landmark decision paves the way for drag shows to be included in the upcoming Pride Festival in Murfreesboro next weekend.
The judge’s ruling came after the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee brought forth a lawsuit on behalf of the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), the organizer and creator of the annual BoroPride Festival. The ACLU argued that the ordinance violated the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and was a clear case of discrimination.
Conservative groups had expressed concerns about the drag show at the festival in 2022, claiming that it sexualized children. However, the organizers defended the event by stating that the performer was fully clothed and no explicit content was involved.
Chis Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, expressed relief and gratitude for the court’s decision. He stated, “We are relieved that the court has taken action to ensure that Murfreesboro’s discriminatory ordinance will not be enforced during the BoroPride festival. We look forward to a safe, joyful celebration of Murfreesboro’s LGBTQ+ community.”
In response to the ruling, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, ACLU, Ballard Spahr, and Burr Forman issued a joint statement expressing their gratitude for the temporary block on the anti-LGBTQ+ ordinance. They emphasized the importance of protecting the freedom of speech and expression for both Murfreesboro residents and drag performers during the BoroPride Festival. The statement highlighted the festival’s role in creating a safe space for self-expression and fostering a sense of community, solidarity, and joy among LGBTQ+ individuals. Furthermore, the organizations pledged to continue defending this space and the free speech rights of the Murfreesboro community until the discriminatory ordinance is permanently struck down.
It is worth noting that the state had previously imposed a ban in March that prohibited “male or female impersonators” and exotic dancers from performing in the presence of minors. However, this law was declared unconstitutional in June by a judge who ruled that it violated the First Amendment.
Overall, the recent decision by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Waverly Crenshaw Jr. represents a significant victory for the LGBTQ+ community in Murfreesboro. The ruling ensures that their right to free speech and expression is protected during the BoroPride Festival, fostering an inclusive and celebratory environment for all.