The Arkansas State Senate on Tuesday (January 24) voted 29 to 6 along party lines to approve SB43, which is a bill designed to regulate the effectiveness of drag and drop. The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for approval and then submitted to Gov. Sarah Sanders.
SB43 classifies drag-and-drop performances as an “adult-focused business” and will add additional location restrictions for performances. The following is a list of activities that are classified as an adult oriented business. • Adult arcade machines • Adult book or video store • Adult cabaret • Adult entertainment venue • Adult cinema • Adult theater • Adult massage establishment • Escort agency • Nude model studio
The bill states that adult-oriented businesses cannot be located on public property. Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, who sponsored the bill, told colleagues he thought about the legislation after hearing the criticism and didn’t change his mind.
“I can’t think of any good redeeming qualities, nothing good that can happen when you take children and put them in front of a bunch of grown men dressed as women,” Stubblefield said.
Stubblefield said children who are exposed to transvestites can cause children to become confused about their identity, leading to the need for psychological help. He also addressed fears that the bill would stop activities such as Shakespeare’s public performances, explaining that the word “lustful” present in the bill allows leeway for such activities.
Senator Greg Leding, a Fayetteville Democrat and Senate Minority Leader, opposed the bill but said he thought Stubblefield was sincere in his intentions to protect children. He said he didn’t think the bill would do what it was intended to do.
“This bill will do nothing to protect children. It will hurt children, especially children who are struggling and do not feel welcome, safe and accepted,” Leding said.
In addition to his concerns about the bill’s constitutionality, Senator Clark Tucker, Democrat of Little Rock, said he believes the bill is government abuse and targets the trans community.
“If this bill was about protecting children from improper sexual influence, we could talk about it. There is a lot of activity in the state that I think could be improper sexual influence on children,” Tucker said. “If you go to West Little Rock and go to Twin Peaks or Hooters, it’s 100% going to be an activity designed to arouse lustful interest.”
Senator Blake Johnson, R-Corning, said it was easy to remain silent on the issue and added that he would not remain silent in expressing his support for the bill. He said the bill was only about sexualization.
In his closing remarks, Stubblefield spoke out against Democratic lawmakers who said the bill was restrictive. He said the bill gives people the freedom to do what they want as long as there are no children.