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Disney Sues DeSantis For Retaliating Against Pro-LGBTQ+ Statement

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - JULY 09: A view of Mickey Mouse at the Walt Disney World theme park entrance on July 9, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The theme park is scheduled to reopen on Saturday despite a surge in new Covid-19 infections throughout Florida, including the central part of the state where Orlando is located. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

In the latest development in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ long—and weird—war against Disney, Disney has filed a lawsuit against DeSantis and other Florida government officials, claiming that they retaliated against Disney for the company’s pro-LGBTQ+ stance.

“A targeted campaign of government retaliation—orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech—now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights,” the lawsuit reads. “Today’s action is the latest strike: At the Governor’s bidding, the State’s oversight board has purported to ‘void’ publicly noticed and duly agreed development contracts, which had laid the foundation for billions of Disney’s investment dollars and thousands of jobs.”

The contracts in question are part of a deal that Disney struck with the state of Florida in 2022. The deal prohibits the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District from making changes to Disney’s property without Disney’s approval, and creates a five-member oversight panel called Reedy Creek. It also lays out plans for a new theme park. Later, the Florida state legislature passed a bill restructuring the agreement and dissolving Reedy Creek so that the governor—currently DeSantis—can appoint all five panel members. This new power allows DeSantis to make unilateral changes to the Disney properties that are prohibited by the contracts.

Disney maintains that the restructuring was “intended to cow Disney into keeping quiet on cultural issues or risk having the state disrupt company operations.”

The situation started in March 2022, when Florida passed its notorious “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which banned Florida teachers from talking about sexual or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade classrooms. The bill was part of a sweeping crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights in Florida.

Disney issued a formal statement in opposition to the bill, stating that it would support organizations working to reverse it. DeSantis responded by waging all-out war on Disney, reneging on the deal above, and later threatening to build a prison next to Disney World.

Disney states that “it finds itself in this regrettable position because it expressed a viewpoint the Governor and his allies did not like.” Judging from DeSantis’s history of bigotry and strange behavior, that sounds about right.

(featured image: Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

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Julia Glassman (she/they) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at