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Baker Botts Joins the ACLU of Texas in Representing Plaintiffs Challenging State’s Ban on Drag Performances

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On August 9, 2023, Baker Botts L.L.P. joined the ACLU Foundation of Texas, Inc. in filing a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction on behalf of plaintiffs who are seeking to block a newly enacted Texas law that would ban drag performances throughout the state, effective September 1, 2023. The motion states that the law, known as Senate Bill 12 (or simply SB 12), is vague and overbroad and a restraint on free speech, which render it unconstitutional.

For decades, drag has played an important role in LGBTQ culture and self-expression. Drag enables all people, including members of the LGBTQ community, to challenge traditional gender stereotypes and develop a unique and highly personal art form. The plaintiffs argue that SB 12 is so vague and overly broad that it sweeps within its ambit a wide range of artistic expression that extends beyond the LGBTQ-oriented drag performances that the bill’s authors targeted. Arguably, SB 12 could apply to Shakespearean plays, hit Broadway musicals, and even cheerleading and football, the plaintiffs contend.

In the lawsuit, Baker Botts and the ACLU of Texas represent plaintiffs The Woodlands Pride, Abilene Pride Alliance, Extragrams, LLC, 360 Queen Entertainment LLC, and Brigitte Bandit—each of whom has already been negatively impacted by the drag ban. The plaintiffs reflect a cross-section of drag artists, production companies, and LGBTQ community organizations who regularly hire drag artists and/or host drag performances.

The Baker Botts team representing plaintiffs in The Woodlands Pride v. Colmenero is led by partner Derek McDonald, senior associates Maddy Dwertman and Brandt Thomas Roessler, and special counsel Ali Andrews. Other members of the litigation team include associates Emily Rohles and Zeinab Bailoun.

“Baker Botts thanks the ACLU of Texas for this opportunity to deepen our relationship as co-counsel and to defend LGBTQ Texans against the state’s attempts to silence our expressions and celebrations of our queerness,” said Brandt Thomas Roessler.

More information regarding the The Woodlands Pride v. Colmenero lawsuit can be found in the ACLU of Texas’s press release.

This new engagement is part of Baker Botts' Pride in Action initiative, which embodies the firm’s commitment to LGBTQ+ civil rights through pro bono representation. To learn more about Pride in Action, click here.


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ABOUT BAKER BOTTS L.L.P.
Baker Botts is an international law firm whose lawyers practice throughout a network of offices around the globe. Based on our experience and knowledge of our clients' industries, we are recognized as a leading firm in the energy, technology and life sciences sectors. Since 1840, we have provided creative and effective legal solutions for our clients while demonstrating an unrelenting commitment to excellence. For more information, please visit bakerbotts.com.

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