City of St. George Seeks Dismissal of Lawsuit by Drag Show Producers Over Revoked Permit

ST. GEORGE, UT – Attorneys for the City of St. George have requested the dismissal of a case brought by drag show producers. The city argues that the show, which was initially denied, was able to continue and that the policies related to the revocation of the original show’s permit have been repealed and replaced.

The Southern Utah Drag Stars sued the city in May after their special events permit for a drag show on public property was revoked due to violations of the city code regarding event advertising. In response to the denial of their appeal by the St. George City Council, the event producers, with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, took the case to federal court. They claimed their First Amendment rights were violated and alleged possible discrimination against the LGBTQ-plus community by city officials.

In June, U.S. District Judge Nuffer ordered St. George to allow the drag show to continue, citing the First Amendment’s guarantee of access to public spaces for public expression. The city decided not to appeal the ruling, and the Southern Utah Drag Stars held their show at the Dixie SunBowl in July.

Meanwhile, the City Council and staff worked to revise and replace policies surrounding special events. In early September, a new code was adopted, removing and replacing the old policy that had resulted in the denial of the original drag show permit.

The City of St. George argues that the event taking place as requested renders the claims made in the initial lawsuit moot. The city’s attorneys have filed a motion for a summary judgment and dismissal of the case. They highlight the significant changes in the special events ordinance that now place the appellate jurisdiction for permit denials in an administrative law judge, rather than the City Council. These changes provide new protections for event organizers and others.

Attorneys for the Southern Utah Drag Stars and the ACLU Utah have until January 26 to respond to the motion. ACLU legal director John Mejía stated that they will oppose the motion and continue to fight for First Amendment rights.

In conclusion, the City of St. George seeks the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by drag show producers. They argue that the show was able to continue, and policies relating to the permit’s revocation have been repealed and replaced. The case awaits a response from the drag show producers and the ACLU Utah.