Disney vs. DeSantis: Gay Rights Summit Now Booked Into Magic Kingdom

”The most magical place on Earth” will team up with Out & Equal to host a diversity-based event that may see 5,000 attendees and piss off the governor

The Walt Disney Company and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have been operating with locked horns over the past year, as a protracted dispute over the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill has put the two at extreme odds over LGBTQ rights and brought lasting consequences for the massive corporation stuck in the battle.

Now, as tension remains high, Disney has put a major conference to promote LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace in Florida, to take place right in its park, on the calendar for this September, as the Miami Herald reports. The event will host some of the most prominent names within the global business world; it’s also ultimately, a direct rebuttal to DeSantis’ crusade against diversity training.

The summit—to be hosted in collaboration with longstanding sponsor Out & Equal—comes nearly a year after DeSantis sparked the feud when passing the state’s HB-1557, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. In its essence, the legislation bans any education regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in pre-4th-grade classrooms. And when Disney clapped back at this bill, which doesn’t require legislative approval, DeSantis upped the stakes for “the most magical place on Earth.”

On Feb. 27, DeSantis effectively ended Disney’s special tax haven, known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which is now the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District; Disney is now required to operate under state regulations within this newly-named zone. Since the late 60s, the company had enjoyed a unique right to self-govern where it was allowed to set its own pace: It had its own fire and police departments, exemptions from many state and local rules regarding building codes and fees, and handled all zoning, utilities, and infrastructure.

Now, the House of Mouse appears to be thumbing its nose at the governor, who has 2024 presidential ambitions. Disney has insisted that the conference will be hosted at its park not just in 2023 but again in 2024—which will coincide with an election that may well see DeSantis clash with former President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination.

The venue and respective September 11-14 dates were confirmed by Michael Chamberlain, chief marketing officer for Out & Equal; the group is migrating the conference from its previous destination in Las Vegas.

The organization has previously hosted Apple, McDonald’s, Uber, Walmart, Hilton, Amazon, Boeing, Cracker Barrel, and John Deere. All have acted as sponsors of the event, which is expected to be attended by over 5,000 individuals.

Now that Disney appears to have found a means of resisting the Republican governor’s will, we’ll have to wait and see if DeSantis will retaliate—oh wait, it looks like today, moves to expand HB-1557 through 12th grade for Floridians are in the works

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