Legislature passes bill to punish exposing minors to ‘lewd’ performances

Randy Fine Titusville 1
The bill is a legislative echo of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ crackdown on drag shows in Florida.

A bill designed to punish people and venues that admit kids to adult-oriented shows with “lewd” content is ready for the Governor’s signature.

Supporters of the measure (SB 1438), titled “Protection of Children,” argue it’s necessary to shield children from exposure to live pornography.

Opponents have labeled it the “anti-drag show” bill and say it’s nothing more than puritanical overreach by conservatives bent on further marginalizing the LGBTQ community.

The five-page measure includes no mention of drag or burlesque shows. But its inspiration came from outrage over those sorts of performances, including book readings by drag performers at public libraries, said Palm Bay Republican Rep. Randy Fine, who sponsored its House version.

As he’d done during the committee process and throughout a period of questions on the House floor Tuesday, when he and others in the Republican supermajority rejected several amendments from their Democratic colleagues, Fine said such events that “target children” are “evil, and we face it here today.”

“The right question is not: Why do I want to stop children from going to these kinds of events?” he said. “The question is: Why are they so determined to do it to children?”

The bill is a legislative echo of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ crackdown on drag shows in Florida dating back to last year that spawned at least three investigations. It authorizes state government officials within the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to suspend or revoke the liquor license of any hotel, motel, restaurant, bar or similar establishment that knowingly admits minors to a live, adult performance.

It defines such performance as “any show, exhibition, or other presentation in front of a live audience which, in whole or in part, depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities as those terms are defined” in existing state law.

That includes “lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts,” shows meant to appeal to “prurient, shameful, or morbid interests,” and displays that are patently offensive and “without serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for the age of the child present.”

A person who admits a child to such a performance, as the bill defines it, would face a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and a year in prison.

The business hosting the event could lose its liquor license, and the DBPR’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants could fine it $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for each violation after.

The bill would also subject city officials to charges if they issue a permit for a public event that exposes children to shows that fit the outlined criteria — a provision Wilton Manors Commissioner Chris Caputo decried as an attack on cities that have had gay pride events for years.

SB 1438 appears to be in conflict with an existing statute (847.013), which it would not overwrite, that also concerns exposing youths to movies, live shows, and other such entertainment that depicts “nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement” and other content “harmful to minors.”

Unlike the new bill, however, the statute provides an exception for people and businesses that admit minors to those sorts of shows if a parent accompanies them.

Asked about this during debate on the Senate floor earlier this month, the bill’s sponsor, Jacksonville Republican Clay Yarborough said he was “comfortable with the language” and unworried it might lead to confusion when it comes to enforcement.

Democratic House members Wednesday lobbed a barrage of criticism at the bill.

LaVon Bracy Davis called it a “blatant attack on free expression, parental rights and choice.” Angie Nixon, who filed an unsuccessful amendment the day before that would have renamed the measure “The Homophobic and Transphobic Bill That Seeks to Create Fake Moral Outrage and Target and Erase the LGBTQ+ Community,” complained its language is too vague.

Michael Gottlieb argued the bill is a distraction from real issues Floridians face.

“Why is bringing this bill a priority for your party?” he said. “When I was elected five years ago, no one called my office and said, ‘Hey, next stop, drag shows.’ And no one has called about it since. But they have called me about sea-level rise, garbage recycling issues, affordable and workforce housing, safe and better public schools and gun safety.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


13 comments

  • Earl Pitts American

    April 19, 2023 at 6:17 pm

    Good afternoon America,
    This bill will set leftist pedophiles back around 20 years from their ultimate goal of legalizing pedophilia in Florida. A lot of you fringe causual leftists have not been brought into the hardcore leftist inner circles yet to believe your leftist leadership really really lust for sexual relations with your childern. Some of y’all are seceretly abusing your own kids right now. There are various twisted stages and evil methods you lefties have at moving to full time pedophila. But you ALL will go there eventually if you dont turn from your wicked ways. Turn before you burn.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts American

    • Elliott Offen

      April 19, 2023 at 10:20 pm

      👆 Report this drunken pill head to Florida Politics for vulgar obscenities and stupidity. Comes on here drunk out of his mind unmedicated..needs medication for schizophrenia.

      • Earl Pitts American

        April 20, 2023 at 6:07 am

        Thank you Smelliot,
        You are my best contrarian poster ever!!!! Always making your beloved boss and hero, Earl Pitts American, look even greater with your wacky leftist contrarian responses to my learned words of sweet sweet wisdom which I drop on the regular to the perdominatly leftist readers. Theres no telling how many dook 4 brains leftists Smelliott and Earl Pitts American have turned from their evil ways!!! You rock Smelliott, I, your beloved boss Earl Pitts American, am putting you in for a pay raise!
        Thanks my man “Smell”,
        Earl Pitts American

        • Dan

          April 20, 2023 at 4:16 pm

          So far 3 republican pedos were arrested just this week. Are you one of them?

          • Dont Say FLA

            April 20, 2023 at 5:03 pm

            Don’t forget Rhonda’s Panties buddy who suicided after getting “busted” trying to con favors from a teen in exchange for Taylor Swift tickets. Every attack from a GOP is a confession.

        • Elliott Offen

          April 21, 2023 at 1:53 pm

          @Russia Earl: You really are a schizophrenic narcissistic psychopath. Need jail!

  • Tea Party Priest Adelbert 👍

    April 19, 2023 at 6:25 pm

    If there is no balls and banana flopping out then they can do nothing without being sued by the DOJ. People have a right to assemble and perform regardless of their sex or gender. They will be sued if they try to stop a show or arrest someone unless private parts are exposed. Period.

  • JD

    April 19, 2023 at 6:33 pm

    Randy Fine is the epitome of Jerry Falwell of the 1980s, drag queen like, fat, and sweaty. Oh, and stupid. Who the hell elected this guy and the rest of the turds in the punch bowl?

    I, for one, do not want to return to the 1980s. The sucked. Regan sucked (but he had far, far, more sense than these assclowns).

    “It’s not the heat. It’s the Stupidity”

    • Tjb

      April 21, 2023 at 5:09 pm

      Like Falwell, does Randy Fine watch his wife make love to the pool boy.?
      I do have say that his wife was very HOT when she played the part of a stripper at a fundraising that had children in the audience.

  • tom palmer

    April 19, 2023 at 6:53 pm

    Does that include watching Fine’s ranting?

    • Ocean Joe

      April 19, 2023 at 7:36 pm

      Methinks Randy doth protest too much.

  • Bert Stimson

    April 19, 2023 at 8:29 pm

    That Fine header pic is “lewd,” yikes!

  • Michael K

    April 19, 2023 at 10:25 pm

    Did you know that Hooters offers free meals to children? Ever seen the Hooters wait staff?

Comments are closed.


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