Florida aims to revoke hotel's liquor license for drag show

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at an event Friday, March 10, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Ron Johnson) (Ron Johnson, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

MIAMI – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration is moving to revoke the liquor license of a Miami hotel that hosted a Christmas drag show, a crackdown that comes as the Republican governor looks to shore up his conservative credentials ahead of an expected 2024 presidential bid.

The state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation filed an administrative complaint earlier this week against the Hyatt Regency Miami for hosting the Christmas-themed show. It alleged that the performance was “sexually explicit" and that children were present for the “lewd, vulgar and indecent” display.

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The Hyatt Regency Miami said the programming and ticketing at the venue were managed by a third party and the hotel’s role was to serve food and beverages. Amir Blattner, the hotel’s general manager, said the liquor license remains active as the complaint is being reviewed.

The producers of the drag show didn’t immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press seeking comment Thursday.

DeSantis has filed similar complaints against other venues hosting drag shows in the past. He is known for his aggressive defense of conservative causes and has marketed his administration as a blueprint for strong Republican leadership as he considers a challenge to former President Donald Trump in 2024.

The complaint says the state warned the hotel ahead of the Dec. 27 performance to stop children from attending, but the hotel only made it a recommendation and allowed minors who went with adults, the complaint says. It also alleged that performers simulated sex acts and exposed “prosthetic female breasts."

DeSantis has championed other landmark conservative priorities that his critics have dismissed as anti-LGBTQ, including a law that bans instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

“Governor DeSantis stands up for the innocence of children in the classroom and throughout Florida,” the Republican governor’s office said in a statement regarding the hotel’s liquor license.

On Tuesday, Florida Republicans advanced a measure that expands on the controversial law that critics dubbed the “Don't Say Gay” bill. The new bill would bar school lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity through the eighth grade. It would also ban school requirements on use of pronouns that don't correspond to the person’s sex at birth.

Another bill would restrict venues from allowing children to attend drag shows if they have sexual content.

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