The Walt Disney Co. sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday over a “relentless campaign to weaponize the power of government” against the company in retaliation for speaking out against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. File photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | license photo
April 26 (UPI) — The Walt Disney Co. sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday, alleging unconstitutional political retaliation against the entertainment giant after it publicly disagreed with Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
Disney said it had no choice but to sue after exhausting other efforts in a resolution to guard against what it called “a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain state officials.” .
Disney’s lawsuit says DeSantis used the power of state government against the company after Disney voiced disagreement over a new law, popularly known as “Don’t Say Gay,” that bans discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in public schools.
“A targeted campaign of government retaliation, orchestrated at all levels by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech, now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future, and violates its constitutional rights.” said the disney costume.
The lawsuit says that DeSantis has made it clear that he will not stop and, in fact, plans to intensify punitive actions against Disney for expressing political free speech.
The lawsuit alleges that, at DeSantis’s urging, a state oversight board “has sought to ‘nullify'” agreed development contracts that provided the basis for “billions of dollars of Disney investment and thousands of jobs.”
Disney’s lawsuit also points to how DeSantis recently stated that he also planned to look at things like hotel taxes, highway tolls and the development of some of the Disney-owned properties with more theme parks. DeSantis said that even a prison next to Walt Disney World was an issue to explore.
Disney is one of Florida’s largest taxpayers, paying more than $1.1 billion in state taxes last year while employing 75,000 people.
The lawsuit claims that this is one of the clearest cases of retaliation the court is likely to see.
Disney issued a statement shortly after DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, saying his goal is for the state legislature to strike down the law or for the courts to strike it down.
“We are dedicated to defending the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country,” Disney said.
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