White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Friday blasted Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee for signing into law a bill that restricts drag performances in his state.
The American people are concerned about the economy, safe communities and schools, and good health care, the out press secretary said at a press briefing. “Instead of doing anything to address those real issues that are impacting American people right now, you have a governor from Tennessee who has decided to go after drag shows,” she said.
“What sense does that make to go after drag shows? How is that going to help people’s lives who are thinking about the economy, who are thinking about making sure their kids are going to be safe when they go to school, their communities are safe? But that’s what he wants to focus on.”
“It’s part of a larger pattern from elected officials who espouse freedom and liberty but apparently think that freedom of speech extends only to people who agree with them,” Jean-Pierre continued.
Lee signed the bill into law Thursday. It redefines “male and female impersonators” as adult cabaret performers and bans “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors.” Drag performances could not take place on public property or in venues accessible to minors. He also signed legislation banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors.
Lee supported the anti-drag bill even though he was found to have posed in drag for a high school yearbook picture in 1977. He claimed that the picture was far different from the kind of performances the legislation would ban. Opponents of the anti-drag bill said it is unnecessary, as obscene performances are already banned by Tennessee law, plus it further marginalizes LGBTQ+ people. Jean-Pierre echoed those concerns.
Lee “hasn’t been able to cite any examples — anything — to show that drag shows in public spaces are a problem,” she said, adding “These ridiculous policies aren’t just unnecessary, they are dangerous, they vilify our fellow Americans at a time when LGBTQ+ Americans are facing higher risks [of] violence, mental health issues, and it’s unacceptable, it’s completely unacceptable for a governor to be moving in this way with such a bill, and it’s also unfortunate.”