‘Damn right:’ Florida lawmaker’s controversial comments amid drag show drama

Randy Fine, R-Brevard County, lambasts critique of HB 1423

Rep Randy Fine, (R-Palm Bay pictured center with red tie) questions a presenter during a 2019 meeting. (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Comments made by a Brevard County state representative are going viral in the latest fight over proposed legislation that critics say puts restrictions on the LGBTQ+ community.

The state administration and technology appropriations subcommittee passed HB 1423 Wednesday.

The bill penalizes venues for hosting adult live performances where children are present.

While it doesn’t specifically single out drag shows, State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard County, who sponsored the bill, has said its purpose was to go after “Drag Queen Story Time,” calling it a gateway to transgenderism.

Earlier this week, Fine also added an amendment to the bill that would also penalize government entities that issue permits to events that want to use public facilities.

On Wednesday, Fine said on Facebook that the bill would be able to ban the city of Melbourne from “‘welcoming’ drag queen adult entertainers from grooming our children,” which would include events like the Space Coast Pride Festival and Parade.

Democrats in the Florida House criticized Fine and Florida Republicans for this and other bills they say restricts LGBTQ+ events and activities.

“There’s no need for this bill, except for it being an attack on a specific community that we keep attacking again and again,” said State Rep. Kristen Arrington, D- Kissimmee.

Other Democrats also said Fine’s bill amounted to taking a parent’s right to decide for their child away from them when it comes to LGBTQ+ events, but doesn’t penalize establishments like Hooters.

“This is a disgusting bill and it’s designed to target parents like me,” said State Rep. Angie Nixon, D-Jacksonville. “The LGBTQ community is here to stay, and you all need to deal with it.”

Fine, however, defended his bill by reiterating it was about protecting children from sexual content, in a statement that has since gone viral on social media.

“If it means erasing a community because you have to target children, then damn right we oughta do it. I just don’t think you have to inherently say ‘cause you’re lesbian or gay you have to target children.’ I find that statement to be offensive to them.”

The bill also empowers the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to fine, suspend or revoke the license of a public lodging or food service establishment if it admits a child to a performance that is determined to be “adult” according to Florida Statute definitions of the term.

A version of the bill on the Florida Senate side passed the full chamber on a party-line vote, 28-12, on Tuesday.

The legislative actions fall in line with recent attempts by the DeSantis administration to strip venues in Miami and Orlando of their liquor licenses over drag performances where children were present.

In the case in Orlando, DBPR sent notice to The Plaza Live in February that it faced the loss of its liquor license because it hosted “A Drag Queen Christmas” and three children attended and may have been exposed to “lewd, indecent or obscene content.”

However, DBPR’s investigative reports obtained by News 6, showed agents did not believe any children were witness to lewd acts, such as genital organ exposure, and performers did not have physical contact with any of the patrons. However, the agents reported the performers did simulate acts of “sexual activity.”

It’s also the latest state lawmaker comment to go viral in relation to a controversial bill.

On Monday, State Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Volusia County, referred to members of the transgender community in a committee hearing as “imps,” “demons” and likened them to the mutants in X-Men.

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About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.