ron desantis moves to strip florida venues liquor license for christmas drag show

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration moved on Friday to strip an Orlando performing arts center of its liquor license in retaliation for hosting a holiday-themed drag show in December.

A 27-page complaint filed by the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation alleged that the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation “knowingly welcomed” attendees under age 18 to watch “A Drag Queen Christmas” against Florida law.

The move comes as DeSantis, a hard-right Republican, continues to wage war on drag performers and smear members of the LGBTQ community with accusations of child abuse as he eyes a run for the White House.

The civil complaint acknowledged that a sign at the venue, called The Plaza Live, warned adults about bringing minors with them but claimed that it “was barely visible.”

The sign implicitly directed parents to make their own decisions ― which DeSantis has lauded as a “fundamental right” in parenting.

The Dec. 28 event was billed as the 8th annual holiday drag show. Photos from the venue show at least two children apparently being led into the audience. The complaint also contained still images of the stage; one featured a screen with a finger pointing into a holiday wreath. Others showed shirtless men and a costumed drag queen wearing antlers.

The Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Grainy photos from the event provided by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation show costumed drag performers.
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation

Songs performed included “Screwdolph the Red-Nippled Reindeer,” which, according to the complaint, featured the following lyrics: “Then one soggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say, ‘Screwdolph with your nipples so bright won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?’”

A Florida business regulation department representative told The Orlando Sentinel that the venue could continue to sell alcohol while the complaint was processed.

The complaint outlined six civil counts of violations of Florida statutes relating to lewd content being put on where minors could see it. No criminal charges have been filed.

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