Bride-To-Be’s Lawsuit Against DC: Why Is Dancing Allowed At Strip Clubs But Banned At Weddings?

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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A Washington D.C. woman is suing the city over its ban on dancing at weddings.

Margaret Appleby, whose wedding is scheduled for June 6, filed a lawsuit on Monday claiming that the city’s ban violates her First Amendment rights. The city allows dancing in exercise classes such as Zumba and at strip clubs, Appleby’s lawsuit notes.

Appleby and her fiance repeatedly modified their wedding plans to accommodate Washington D.C.’s coronavirus restrictions, including changing the number of people invited to comply with social distancing regulations. A majority of guests are expected to be vaccinated, according to the lawsuit, and out-of-towners are expected to comply with the city’s quarantine requirements. (RELATED: DC Mayor Traveled To ‘High Risk’ Delaware Despite Her Own Mandate)

The lawsuit claims that the ban, announced by Mayor Muriel Bowser on May 3, is “arbitrary” since “it permits other forms of nonexpressive dancing, gathering, and congregating, while banning wedding dancing without accounting for whether people are vaccinated.”

The Supreme Court has repeatedly acknowledged dances at weddings as “a core part of the association and expression of the wedding as a whole,” the suit notes. It further describes dancing as “a deeply rooted tradition within American marital culture.”

“The First Amendment does not permit the District to irrationally discriminate against wedding dancing, while simultaneously allowing equally dangerous, though less expressive, activities to continue without remark,” attorney Adam Schulman of the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute, which is representing Appleby, said in a statement.

Ted Frank, who is also representing Appleby, expressed optimism about the willingness of courts to strike down some coronavirus restrictions that conflict with constitutional rights.

“I think the tide has turned, especially as the pandemic has receded and restrictions have become increasingly arbitrary, irrational, and unscientific,” he told the Daily Caller.

Following the threat of a lawsuit from the Archdiocese of Washington, Bowser relaxed coronavirus restrictions for houses of worship ahead of Christmas. Calvary Hill Baptist Church, located on Capitol Hill, successfully sued the city in October 2020 for the right to hold outdoor services without crowd size restrictions.