The owners of Hamburger Mary’s Orlando (Facebook | Website) are suing Governor DeSantis and the State of Florida over a bill that was recently signed that targets drag performances.

Hamburger Mary’s opened on Church Street in 2008 and has been hosting drag-centric event programming ever since, but with the passing of Senate Bill 1438, or the “Protection of Children” bill, that business model may be under attack.

The bill grants state agencies the power to revoke liquor licenses and even close a venue, if children are allowed to attend “adult performances” or acts where people wear “prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts.”

Hamburger Mary’s owners, Mike Carpenter and John Paonessa, share in their lawsuit against the state, that they were forced to cancel a Sunday series of family-friendly performances and that families have already stopped coming to the restaurant, quoting a 20% drop in reservations. The lawsuit also states that the law is too vague and limits free speech.

The restaurant is also asking the court to temporarily freeze the law while the case is carried out.

The bill is also making organizations question any and all public activations and festivals, including Come Out With Pride, which is trying to figure out what to do about their annual Pride Parade in downtown Orlando this October.

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

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  1. Kudos to hamburger Mary’s and the franchise owners. I hope more businesses and clubs will challenge