Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a bill on Monday, February 27 that terminates Walt Disney World’s right to self-govern the land surrounding the theme park’s properties. The move comes in response to Disney expressing opposition to the state’s Parental Rights in Education Law, better known as Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which forbids classroom discussion on the topics of gender identity and sexuality.
Since 1967, Disney held a special status that allowed the theme park to govern the surrounding Florida land that it occupies through a self-governing district called Reedy Creek Improvement District. As of Monday, a state-controlled board has been appointed by DeSantis to govern the area, which will now be called the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
As Ron DeSantis attacks a private corporation for denouncing his bigotry, I feel it’s important to note that he LITERALLY got married at Disney World. pic.twitter.com/DrwUqYrE98
— Jack Petocz (@Jack_Petocz) February 27, 2023
The new legislation grants the Republican governor the authority to appoint all five members of the Board of Supervisors, and they could determine that Disney owes the state millions in debt. The board Chairman is Martin Garcia, whose investment firm, Pinehill Capital Partners, donated $50,000 to DeSantis’ campaign.
Other board members include Bridget Ziegler, Co-Founder of a conservative group called Moms for Liberty that trains and recruits conservative adults to run for school boards. Ziegler is married to a vice chairman of the Florida Republican Party.
Another one of DeSantis’s appointees is the founder of Moms for Liberty, which has led the book ban and Dont’s Say Gay campaigns.
Ron also appointees the founder of The Gathering, a far-right forum that is openly bent on formally establishing Christian Nationalism in the US. https://t.co/L2XUS4K0Zw
— Jordan Zakarin (@jordanzakarin) February 27, 2023
During a press talk in Lake Buena Vista and in response to the new law, DeSantis said, “The corporate kingdom finally comes to an end. There’s a new sheriff in town, and accountability will be the order of the day.”
In 2022, Disney employees pressured the company to take a stronger stance against Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill, which was ultimately passed by DeSantis. Roy P Disney, the Co-Founder of Walt Disney Co and great-nephew of Walt Disney condemned the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and matched $500,000 in donations to the Human Rights Campaign in support of his transgender stepson, Charlee Corra, who publicly came out as trans last year.
In a statement issued at the time, Disney said, “Equality matters deeply to us, especially because our child, Charlee, is transgender and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Is Disney really going to bend over for Ron DeSantis? If I was a Disney Board member I would be preparing to sue DeSantis for trillions of dollars. He has handed control of their district to a campaign donor and is punishing the company for opposing his fascist "Don't Say Gay".
— Henry M. Rosenberg (@DoctorHenryCT) February 27, 2023
In his book, The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival, Ron DeSantis referenced the long-running conflict between Disney and himself. He claims that former Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, was aware of the risks Disney faced when the company voiced concerns about DeSantis’ efforts to remove LGBTQ+ education from Florida classrooms.
Disney has not issued a public response, but many have expressed concerns about the precedent that it sets for DeSantis targeting other corporations, especially if the Republican runs for President of the United States.
© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.
comments. Please sign in to comment.