FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Republican lawmakers have advanced a bill aimed at putting limits on drag shows in Kentucky, sparking chants of “shame” from opponents who said the measure are discriminatory and said it would stifle First Amendment rights.
The measure would prohibit drag shows on public property or in places where the adult performances could be viewed by children.
Violations of the bill would be punishable as misdemeanors for the first two offenses but would rise to a felony for subsequent offenses. Businesses hosting such performances could have their alcohol and business licenses suspended or revoked.
After a lengthy discussion that at times turned emotional, the Kentucky Senate committee sent the measure to the full Senate. If it passes there, it would still need House approval. Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers.
The committee voted to scale back the bill from its original version, which would have imposed stricter location restrictions on where drag shows could occur. Despite the changes, opponents continued to raise constitutional questions about the measure.
The proposal — Senate Bill 115 — remains discriminatory despite the revisions, said Bob Heleringer, who represented the Fairness Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy organization.
A few minutes later, the committee's Republican members advanced the bill. After the vote, the bill's opponents started chanting “shame.” The chanting continued as the committee chairman called up another bill to be considered. The opponents eventually left the committee room.