This week, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined an 18-state coalition supporting Tennessee’s defense of its Adult Entertainment Act (AEA), protecting minors from lewd and obscene behavior. A district court incorrectly ruled against the law, and the attorneys general support the appeal of that initial ruling.
Contrary to its critics, the law does not ban drag shows. By its own terms, the AEA applies only to certain forms of adult entertainment that are sexual or explicit performances, and the law does not even ban those performances. It simply requires this type of adult entertainment to occur in adult-only zones and prohibits such entertainment on public property.
Critics argue it’s a discriminatory law, but the statute prohibits performances that include “nudity, sexual excitement, sexual conduct, excess violence or sadomasochistic abuse” that “appeal[s] predominantly to prurient, shameful or morbid interests of minors” in a “patently offensive” way that “lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.” This law imposes the same restrictions on drag performers as any other sexually explicit performances, based on longstanding rules with adult establishments. Simply, a drag entertainer can’t perform sexually explicit performances at a library, or anywhere children may be present. The same restrictions apply to exotic dancers or anyone else.
The amicus brief states, “… [T]he district court disregarded decades of precedent that respects the role of legislatures—and state legislatures in particular—in shaping public policy. The Tennessee legislature did not act with an impermissible purpose, and the Court’s holding to the contrary undermines basic principles of separation of powers. The judgment of the district court should be reversed.”
Attorney General Wilson, who argues for AEA, suggests “the General Assembly merely sought to advance its longstanding interest in ‘safeguarding the physical and psychological well-being’ of minor children.”
Utah Attorney General Reyes joined Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia on the amicus brief led by South Carolina.