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Shelby County D.A. Steve Mulroy says 'ill-advised' drag bill is not his focus

"We should be focusing on drag racing — not drag shows," Mulroy said.

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — By now, the country knows that Tennessee Governor Bill Lee volunteered to make Tennessee the first state in the country to pass a law limiting drag shows like never before.

The law bans any drag show in public that could be seen by minors and goes into effect April 1. It also marks the second major proposal that targets the LGBTQ+ community that Tennessee lawmakers have passed since beginning their annual legislative session in January. Last week, lawmakers approved legislation that bans most gender-affirming care. Lee also signed that bill into law Thursday.

Under the Tennessee bill, the words "drag show" are not explicitly stated. Instead, the legislation changes the definition of adult cabaret in Tennessee's law to mean "adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors." The bill also says that "male or female impersonators" now fall under adult cabaret among topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers and strippers.

The question remains: will local prosecutors enforce it?  

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said he'll enforce the bill, but with so many other problems, it's not going to be his focus.

"I think the bill is ill-advised," Mulroy said. "I think it's a solution in search of a problem. I think we've got so much on our plate right now that we should be focusing on drag racing — not drag shows."

A dozen other states have similar bills under consideration.

Legal experts say, across the country this year, state legislators have filed 321 bills affecting the LGTBQ+ community. Most of the states are in the South.


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