Ron DeSantis Calls Disney Lawsuit “Political,” Again Hammers Company On Opposition To “Don’t Say Gay” Law

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis slammed The Walt Disney Co.’s lawsuit over his effort to strip the company of authority over its sprawling Walt Disney World property.

DeSantis called the litigation without “merit” and “political,” while defending his moves against the Mouse House as merely putting the company on an equal playing field with other theme parks and resorts.

“Giving a company its own government, that is not what a free market is all about,” DeSantis said during a visit to Jerusalem. “In fact, they’ve been treated much different than Universal, Sea World and all these other places. And so they’re upset because they’re actually having to live by the same rules as everybody else. They don’t want to have to pay the same taxes as everybody else, and they want to be able to control things without proper oversight.”

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Disney Sues Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Over Disney World "Retaliation" & Free Speech

Disney filed suit on Wednesday against the governor and his appointees to a special district board that oversees the company’s Florida property. Disney claims that the governor’s moves against the company were retaliation for Disney’s opposition to a parental rights bill last year, known as the “don’t say gay” law by detractors.

As proof, Disney’s lawsuit included numerous statements that the governor made after signing legislation that ended the company’s control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the 55-year-old special district that covers the property.

“I don’t think the suit has merit,” DeSantis said. “I think it’s political. I think they filed in Tallahassee for a reason because they are trying to generate some district court decision, but we’re very confident on the law. …The days of putting one company on a pedestal with no accountability are over in the state of Florida.”

In his remarks to reporters, DeSantis again referred to the company’s opposition to the parental rights bill.

“I will say a lot of Floridians were upset, particularly parents, that they really went so headstrong into trying to get the sexualization of the curriculum into the elementary schools,” DeSantis said. “We don’t think that that’s appropriate in Florida, and that spans partisan, spans everything. Parents, they want kids to be kids, and they want to focus on the basics of academics.”

The Florida Parental Rights In Education Act prohibits schools from having classroom instruction on gender identity or sexual orientation from K-3. The state Board of Education recently passed a rule change that expands the prohibition to all grades, unless required by existing state standards.

Civil rights groups said that the law was vague, and unfairly targeted the LGBTQ community.

In its lawsuit, Disney said that “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.”

Disney and the Reedy Creek Improvement District entered into a development agreement shortly before the state took control of the special district with the DeSantis appointees on the board. That development agreement gave the company the green light over projects on its property over the next 30 years, as well as a say in what gets built on nearby land. The state-controlled district, though, moved to void that agreement on Wednesday.

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