In Florida, the subject of sexual identity has recently been made taboo in elementary schools. Disney employees had also protested against this. Now the governor is threatening the amusement park in Orlando with consequences.
Without question – Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis is testing his limits in the Kulturkampf. Now, of all things, Florida’s largest and most important employer becomes his target: the Walt Disney Company from California.
In just four days, Congress passed legislation stripping Disney World of its special status in Orlando as punishment for the company’s defiance of the “don’t say gay” law.
Disney “had a deal like no other company in Florida or even the country,” DeSantis told Fox News.
“They were self-governing, they had a lot of power, they could even have built nuclear power plants. They didn’t need building permits and they got tax breaks. It’s just inappropriate.”
Employees protested against new law
In fact, the almost 100 square kilometer amusement park had received a special status with extensive self-government in the 1960s. This privilege should now be over. The reason for this is obvious: Many of the approximately 80,000 Disney employees demonstrated in March against Florida’s new “Don’t say gay law”.
The rule bans debates about sexual orientation and identity in elementary schools. Disney CEO Bob Chapek backed his staff at the time: “I called Governor DeSantis to express our disappointment and concern that if this bill becomes law, it could unfairly target LGTBQ children and families.”
DeSantis denies corporations right to interfere
DeSantis defended his law: “This is a law that gives parents more responsibility and protects our children. Companies like Disney have no right to say anything against it.” It started with the “Woke” activists, according to DeSantis. The governor emphasized: “You have no say in our state – not as long as I am governor.”
There is a risk of massive tax increases in counties
Should the law abolishing self-government actually come into force on June 1 of next year, it would have far-reaching consequences. So far, Disney has managed itself, keeping its streets in order, employing the police, fire brigade, rescue services and the like.
In the future, the two counties near Orlando – Orange County and Osceola County – would have to take over all this. That would mean horrendous tax increases for residents – probably by 20 to 25 percent for property tax, Scott Randolph from the tax authority estimated on local television.
Political scientist Aubrey Jewitt of the University of Central Florida sees DeSantis’ actions as a warning to Disney and other companies not to interfere in the legislative process.
Political opponents accuse DeSantis of only instigating the dispute with Disney to cover up changes in the shape of the constituencies. The 43-year-old is considered a potential presidential candidate for 2024. But in the fall he wants to be re-elected governor of Florida. It remains to be seen whether the dispute with Disney will help him.