Hamburger Mary’s suing DeSantis over recent legislation targeting drag shows

ORLANDO, Fla. — The owner of Hamburger Mary’s is suing Gov. Ron DeSantis, saying a new law is hurting the restaurant’s business and violating its first amendment rights.


Hamburger Mary’s, a popular Orlando restaurant, has hosted family-friendly drag shows on a regular basis where children were invited.

The owner says the law is written in a vague way.

The new bill cracks down on venues that allows children to attend adult live performances by suspending or revoking their business licenses.

SEE: Tool frontman performs in drag during Central Florida show following new state legislation

In the lawsuit filed Monday, it alleges the language used in the statute is meant to be and is primarily vague and indistinct, making it hard for them to operate.

Attorney Michael Mandell said the law is indeed murky.

“It’s vague in how it is applied,” he said. “It’s saying anything adult entertainment, which includes loudness. What that really means is unclear.”

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Mandell said the case between the restaurant and the state will boil down to two things.

“On one hand, Florida has the SB1483 bill, which is there to protect children, so that’s their argument,” Mandell said. “When it comes to Hamburger Mary’s, it’s the freedom of speech argument.”

He said the courts will look carefully at Hamburger Mary’s claim.

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“The courts are going to look at it and really look at the law and see – is it too vague? Is it overboard? Is it restricting people’s ability to express themselves?”

Mandell said that alone leaves Hamburger Mary’s with a stronger case.

However, he said the state’s argument could be over obscenity, “and that’s likely what Florida is going to be arguing here.”

READ: DeSantis signs bills targeting drag shows, transgender kids and the use of bathrooms and pronouns

“But there is the argument Florida will make that, because minors are involved, there’s a different type of standard,” Mandell said.

In the lawsuit, Hamburger Mary’s also talks about the their bottom line has already taken.

After the law and customers were informed children would no longer be admitted, 20% of their bookings were canceled for this past Sunday’s show, and for future bookings.

READ: Drag show promoters say they’re being targeted by Florida bill threatening liquor licenses

The lawsuit said it’s ultimately looking to block the law from being implemented.

Channel 9 reached out to Hamburger Mary’s and the governor’s office for comment, and is waiting to hear back.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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