ALBEMARLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Albemarle City Council members voted 4-3 Monday night to deny an ordinance amendment that would have defined drag shows as sexually oriented business practices.
This definition would have limited where drag shows could occur within city limits and restrict anyone under the age of 18 from attending them.
The council members who voted against the restriction argued that due to the city’s land-use plan, voting for the amendment would essentially ban drag shows in the city, as there would be few, if any, places where they could occur.
In turn, they feared the amendment would violate the First Amendment.
“Freedom of speech. Freedom of expression,” said Albemarle resident Tiffany Dale. “There’s a community that needs to be able to express themselves and feel comfortable somewhere.”
The vote came as a result of a petition signed in May by a group of local pastors. They said they were concerned that children were able to attend drag shows and felt compelled to protect them from what they deemed as “perversion.”
“All we’re trying to do is protect our children,” said Prospect Baptist Church Senior Pastor Stoney Benfield. “We love everybody, but we’ve got to protect these young minds.”
At Monday’s meeting, residents in favor of the restriction vastly outnumbered those against it.
In fact, tensions rose high prior to the meeting, with some proponents of the drag restrictions waving signs and shouting at council members and drag supporters as they arrived.
Still, that did not stop the council from siding with the quieter minority.
In September, the town’s planning board voted unanimously to deny recommending the ordinance change.
Councilmen Bill Aldridge, Chris Bramlett, and David Hunt voted in favor of the restriction.