WINFIELD, W.Va. – The Putnam County Commission unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday night that closely mirrors Florida’s so-called drag ban. The ordinance and the Florida law differ from each other by a few minor words.

As written, the ordinance does not outlaw drag performances in Putnam County and it does not bar young people from seeing those performances. Rather, it stokes fear and hatred of the LGBTQ+ community by implying that they are a danger to children, and it chills free speech by creating confusion over what kinds of performances are permitted in the county. Every member of the public who spoke in favor of the ordinance cited either drag or this weekend’s Putnam Pride festival as their reasoning.

The following quote may be attributed to Eli Baumwell, ACLU-WV advocacy director:

“Last week, Florida’s so-called drag ban was blocked by a federal court. Putnam County Commissioners had a choice this evening: pander to the pro-censorship crowd or protect taxpayers from potential costly litigation. They chose to pander.

Drag is many things: It is art; it is protest; and it is protected speech under the First Amendment. One thing drag is not is inherently obscene.”