The Florida Democratic Party was supposed to host their biggest gala at Disney World this year.
However, they scrapped their plans after facing backlash from the Florida LGBTQ Democratic Caucus.
Disney is under fire right now for their tepid and ever-evolving response to Florida’s "Don’t Say Gay Bill.”
The LGBT caucus threatened to boycott the event if it went through, criticizing Disney for not taking an early stand against the anti-LGBT bill, according to Politico. Disney didn’t publicly push back against it until the GOP-led Legislature approved it and the company faced enormous pressure to act.
“Our timing was not ideal,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz said in a statement March 22. “We also acknowledge that in our fight for freedom and fairness, we can always do more. In that spirit, the Florida Democratic Party will choose new dates and venues to hold Leadership Blue. We will share information about new arrangements once we have explored available options.”
The “Don’t Say Gay” bill will ban classroom discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K-3, and possibly more, if Gov. Ron DeSantis signs it into law.
Many Democrats are outraged that the party wants to host the fundraiser at Disney, Politico reported.
“Disney is on the front page of every newspaper,” said Stephen Gaskill, president of the Florida Democratic LGBTQ caucus. “It’s just inconceivable that it would be unknown to the Florida Democratic Party while planning the event.”
State Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, said she understands why Democrats have chosen to use Disney hotels in the past because they employ union workers. But she points out that even before the recent controversy, most of Disney’s political donations have gone to Republicans in Florida. Disney has since agreed to halt all political donations over the “Don’t Say Gay” “bill, according to Politico.
“It gives the impression that Florida Democrats are not watching the news,” Eskamanit told Politico, who said she would boycott the event as long as it remained at Disney. “Hopefully the party will change the location.”
Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek has been criticized the most for trying to handle the fallout over the bill only after its passage despite an uproar among staff and others that the company should publicly denounce the bill.
“Disney’s response to the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill was tepid, short-sighted, and disappointing at best,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said, according to Politico. “If the Democratic Party keeps the Leadership Blue Gala at Disney, and Disney leadership does not do more to stand against hate, I will not attend.”
Opponents of the bill, including President Joe Biden, have condemned the legislation as an attack on LGBT students. DeSantis argues that it gives parents more control and information over their children’s education, and said opposers of the bill are “supporting sexual instruction for young kids.”
Despite what the governor, he and other Republicans, have conflated sexual orientation and sex education. In fact, Republicans had an opportunity to amend their bill to focus on sex education while it was making its way through the legislature. They voted it down.