KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Both state lawmakers and performers alike are talking about the recent ruling made by a federal judge, who ruled that Tennessee’s law restricting drag performances is unconstitutional after a Memphis organization challenged the law, according to court documents. For some, they say the ruling came right on time.
The ruling comes a few days into Pride Month. Dolly Parton Tribute Artist Vancie Vega thought was perfect timing.
“I think that it is right on time, what’s the word I’m looking for, it’s serendipitous,” she said.
Vega travels the world performing as Dolly Parton, and has performed in drag in the past. She said she tried to encourage others in her community to keep performing when the law was signed by Governor Lee.
“Fear is not a part of my life, so I tried to calm everyone down, but when I got the news today, I thought of course it didn’t pass, it is unconstitutional,” Vega said.
She said she didn’t understand where lawmakers were coming from with the bill.
“My show, of course it’s Dolly, so I always welcome families because it’s a rated-G show, but if I work in a bar, there’s no place for a child there, period. So, I don’t see what the whole hoopla was,” she said.
State Representative Gloria Johnson said she wasn’t surprised the law was deemed unconstitutional.
“I was thrilled, but it’s very frustrating because we told them that this bill was unconstitutional. We said it in committee, we said it meetings with them, we said it on the house floor. If you read the bill and you read the constitution, you know that this bill is unconstitutional,” Johnson said.
Representative Jason Zachary released a statement saying, “I completely disagree with the judge’s ruling that banning perverse public acts in the presence of children violates free speech. Republicans in TN have prioritized protecting children.”
He went on to say, “We will continue to take every step necessary to ensure children in our state are not subjected to public acts of perversion. I have full confidence that General Skrmetti will appeal the ruling and take every step necessary to defend the law passed by the legislature.”
As for Vega, she said she wouldn’t have changed her ways even if the law had continued to be in effect.
“Personally, it wouldn’t have affected me, because I don’t live in fear. I think the best publicity I could’ve gotten is to be arrested in Dolly Parton drag,” Vega said.