Plaintiffs Southern Utah Drag Stars and Mitski Avalōx filed suit against the City of St. George, the City Council and its members, the Mayor of St. George, and the City Manager for the denial of their permit to host a family-friendly drag show in a public park.
On March 3, Mitski Avalōx applied for a City of St. George special events permit to host a family-friendly drag event, Allies & Community Drag Show Festival, at J.C. Snow Park. A few weeks later, the city denied her application, alleging that she violated its advertising ordinance, an obscure local rule which prohibits advertising for special events until the city grants a permit. The advertising ordinance was not routinely enforced, in part because it is unworkable – permits are typically not issued until the day of or the day before events, making advertising an event practically impossible. Drag Stars appealed the city’s permit denial and at the hearing at least one city council member acknowledged that the advertising ban is not enforceable, but the city nonetheless denied Drag Stars’ appeal
To make matters worse, while Avalōx’s application was pending, St. George decided to suspend considering any new special event permits for six months, denying Drag Stars the opportunity to submit a new permit application after the initial rejection. The city later exempted “city sponsored” events from the six month ban on new permit applications, creating a scheme whereby city officials selectively grant permits to favored events while denying all others. St. George’s special events policies discriminate against drag performances and are so opaque that no one can know what is allowed and what is not.