The impact of DeSantis vs Disney

Naomi Thompson, Staff Writer

Governor Ron DeSantis is at odds with the Walt Disney Company over statements they released on current legislation he signed.

On March 28th, DeSantis signed House Bill 1557 into law. The bill has been coined the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opposing forces. 

Disney has taken strong opposition to the signing of the bill, stating that the company wants to stand in support of the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”

This statement from Disney came quickly after they faced mass backlash over evidence that they were donating to sponsors of the bill before it was passed.

 Videos surfaced on Twitter of employees walking out in protest of Disney’s contributions. The group created their own website to organize a series of walkouts called the Disney Do Better Walkout

These walkouts were scheduled from March 15th through the 21st. Since then, various Disney accounts have shown support for the  LGBTQIA+ community. 

On March 22nd, Disney World (@waltdisneyworld) shared this post on Instagram. 

DeSantis quickly responded to their published statement in a press conference on March 29. He advised that Disney did not have a place in Florida legislation. 

“The state of Florida is governed according to the interests of the people, not according to the political posturing of corporate executives in California. We will never allow corporate influence to repeal the substantive rights of parents in our state,” DeSantis said.

Disney’s actions in face of the legislation have drawn both praise and criticism. It has caused some to question the role of corporate entities in the political process as this is not the first time, they have faced criticism. 

The public disagreement with the Florida Governor has brought into question the legitimacy of the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) among State representatives. 

RCID is a specially taxed district, established in 1967, that holds the Walt Disney Resort. Walt Disney sought a way to have more creative independence for his creation of EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). 

There is also the question of how this could impact Disney’s copyright power over the Mickey Mouse character that is set to expire in 2024. The chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Jim Banks, headed a letter to Disney in opposition to another extension.

“Given Disney’s continued work with a Communist Chinese regime that does not respect human rights or U.S. intellectual property and given your desire to influence young children with sexual material inappropriate for their age, I will not support further extensions applicable to your copyrights, which should become public domain,” Banks said.

Sixteen members of Congress also signed the letter. Further action has not yet been taken. 

The situation has caused many to discuss whether Disney CEO Bob Chapek made the right calls in handling the controversy. Disney has not responded to the letter.