UPDATE: Patrick Hanley, public policy and advocacy lead for Resource Center, warned today that even those the committee substitute version of Senate Bill 12 does not include explicit language restricting drag performances, “we remain concerned the language could come back as an amendment or in the conference stage.”
Hanley also notes that the committee substitute version, “they retained the phrase that restricts performance that ‘appeals to the prurient interest in sex,’ which is undefined in the legislation. Our fear is that this vague statement could be used by bad actors to police or harass spaces, including LGBTQIA+ community spaces. Public indecency is already a crime in Texas so this bill creates unnecessary ambiguity. SB 12 remains a bad bill.”
ORIGINAL POST: After being delayed for more than a week, Senate Bill 12 — which would prohibit “certain sexually oriented performances on public property, on the premises of a commercial enterprise or in the presence of a child” and would authorize civil penalties and create a criminal offense — is headed to the floor of the House for a vote on Friday, May 19.
BUT language that included drag performances in the definition of “sexually oriented performances” has been deleted from the bill.
That change is due — at the very least in part — to the efforts of Dallas businessmen who traveled to Austin last week to lobby against the measure.
Mike Ngyuen, CEO of Caven Enterprises, and Arthur Hood of HV Entertainment, which owns the soon-to-open Hamburger Mary’s in Oak Lawn, traveled to Austin last week, taking with them four drag performers —Cassie Nova, Jenna Skyy, Bleach and Rocky Tacoma — to talk with lawmakers about the bill. Ngyuen said Wednesday that he and others “havae been working to get the bill amended to its current form. … We still have a lot of work to do.”
But he noted that the version of the bill available at the Texas Legislature website is not the version that is headed to the floor for a vote on Friday.
In the original version, the definition of “sexually oriented performance” included, in addition to nudity and performers engaging in or simulating actual sex acts, “a male performer exhibiting as a female, or a female performer exhibiting as a male, who uses clothing, makeup, or other similar physical markers and who sings, lip syncs, dances, or otherwise performs before an audience.”
That language has been deleted from the amended version, which instead reads: “’Sexually oriented performance’ means a visual performance that features a performer who is nude, as defined by Section 102.051, Business & Commerce Code; or any other performer who engages in sexual conduct; and appeals to the prurient interest in sex.”