International Travel

Disney-DeSantis Feud Continues: Florida Governor Asks Court to Dismiss Lawsuit

Lacey Pfalz

by Lacey Pfalz
Last updated: 10:15 AM ET, Tue June 27, 2023

The feud between The Walt Disney Co. and Florida Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis continued on Monday, when the governor asked a federal court to dismiss the entertainment giant’s lawsuit against him, which claims his actions in taking away the company’s oversight of the Reedy Creek Improvement District following Disney’s vocal opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill was politically motivated and violated the company’s rights to free speech. 

According to ABC News, which is part of The Walt Disney Co., the Florida governor hopes the federal court will dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that he is entitled to immunity from the charges brought forward in the suit. 

DeSantis’s lawyers wrote that he “is entitled to legislative immunity, which shields ‘both governors’ and legislators’ actions in the proposal, formulation and passage of legislation.'” 

The Disney-DeSantis feud has been going on now for a while, and will likely take years to finish. The beginning came when DeSantis pushed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law in Florida, which Disney spoke out against. 

The feud continued as DeSantis then pushed to end Disney’s oversight of the Reedy Creek Improvement District with his own lawsuit against the company, appointing his own five-member oversight board, which Disney found a contractual loophole to, claiming that the original contract that promised the company’s autonomy would be in effect until the end of the British monarchy, which is nowhere in sight.

Disney filed the lawsuit that DeSantis now wants dismissed in late April, calling his actions a “retaliation” for the company’s voicing their opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 

Since the law’s enactment and the subsequent legal drama, several organizations have warned travelers to reconsider traveling to or relocating to the state, in part because of these issues as well as DeSantis’s other bills surrounding immigration, education and gun control — all hot-button issues. 

The first of these was Equality Florida, in mid-April. In late-May, the NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) also posted their own travel advisories warning African Americans and Latinx travelers not to visit the state — citing the DeSantis regime’s new educational and immigration laws as reasons to boycott the state. 

“Let me be clear — failing to teach an accurate representation of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced and continue to face is a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all…” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson in a statement made when the travel advisory was published. “Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon.” 

Late May was when the largest LGBTQ organization updated their own travel information for Florida: the Human Rights Campaign. While highlighting the six new anti-LGBTQ bills recently passed into law to encourage greater learning about them, the organization doesn’t outright discourage travelers from traveling to the state.

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