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DeSantis says Disney ‘crossed the line’ with criticism of Fla. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lashed out at Disney executives on Tuesday — one day after the Mouse House condemned the governor’s signing of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Disney CEO Bob Chapek and other top executives have stepped up their criticism of GOP-backed legislation after outraged employees publicly condemned its initial response to the controversy. “For Disney to come out and put a statement and say that the bill should have never passed and they are going to actively work to repeal it — I think, one, was fundamentally dishonest. But two, I think that crossed the line,” DeSantis said at a press conference. “This state is governed by the interests of the people of the state of Florida. It is not based on the demands of California corporate executives. They do not run this state. They do not control this state,” the governor added. DeSantis signed Florida HB 1557 into law on Monday despite critics who decried the measure as harmful and discriminatory. The legislation bans Florida teachers from discussing LGBTQ topics like sexual orientation or gender identity with students unless they’re in the fourth grade or higher. Disney released a scathing statement shortly after DeSantis signed the bill, declaring it “should never have passed and should never have been signed into law.” “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that,” Disney said in a statement. 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.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 29, 2022 The statement — Disney’s strongest public comment to date on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — came after employees staged walkouts and held protests. Critics at the company say executives did not do enough to stop the legislation in recent weeks. Still, a group of employees on the other side of the issue penned an unsigned open letter last week arguing that Disney had embraced what they described as a “progressive orthodoxy” that has created an “environment of fear” for employees who do not back left-leaning causes. “The Walt Disney Company has come to be an increasingly uncomfortable place to work for those of us whose political and religious views are not explicitly progressive,” the letter said. “We watch quietly as our beliefs come under attack from our own employer, and we frequently see those who share our opinions condemned as villains by our own leadership.” The company didn’t publicly respond to the letter. Earlier this month, Chapek broke his silence on the bill in an internal memo on March 7, noting Disney’s “unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.” But the memo only infuriated a group of staffers at Pixar, who said his words “rang hollow” and accused Disney executives of censorship. The Disney chief eventually apologized for his initial memo, declaring the company would pause all political donations in the state of Florida. Chapek also said Disney would meet with DeSantis to discuss the law, but that meeting has yet to occur, according to Bloomberg. DeSantis has only agreed to go through with the meeting if “they keep the discussion to facts about what’s actually in the legislation — not false partisan narratives,” a spokeswoman for the governor told the outlet. Disney did not immediately return a request for comment on DeSantis’ latest remarks.

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