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White House says it opposes DeSantis taking action against Disney

White House says it opposes DeSantis taking action against Disney

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The White House said Thursday it opposes efforts by Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to dissolve a more than 50-year-old self-governing status given to Disney after the company publicly feuded with Republicans over a parental rights bill that was signed into law in the state.

Asked Thursday whether DeSantis’ decision to target the company is an “overstep,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration does not support efforts to target the company over its response to the new law that she described as “just wrong.”

White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks at a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“So, our view is this — is that the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is really crystal clear: It’s wrong. That’s our view: It is just wrong,” Jean-Pierre said during a flight to Portland, Oregon, aboard Air Force One. “We oppose the governor taking action against a company because of their opposition to that bill.  And we’re just going to leave it there for now; we’re not going to say anymore to that.”


Critics of the Florida law dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill despite the legislative text not mentioning the word gay. The law does restrict educators from instructing children younger than the third grade on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Jean-Pierre’s comments come amid a decision by the Florida legislature to strip Disney of the special status granted to the company that essentially allows Disney to self-govern on its large property near Orlando.

The Florida Senate voted Wednesday to remove the status and the Florida House followed suit on Thursday. The measure is expected to be signed into law by DeSantis soon.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference on May 28, 2021.
(Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The special status, known as The Reedy Creek Improvement Act, was signed into law in May 1967 by Gov. Claude Kirk in response to lobbying efforts by Disney. The entertainment giant proposed building a recreation-oriented development on 25,000 acres of property in a remote area of Central Florida’s Orange and Osceola counties, which consisted of 38.5 square miles of largely uninhabited pasture and swampland.

Orange and Osceola County did not have the services or resources needed to bring the project to life, so the state legislature worked with Disney to establish the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special taxing district that allows the company to act with the same authority and responsibility as a county government.

Disney released a statement shortly after DeSantis signed the parental rights bill and vowed to help fight the law in court.

Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek stands alongside Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.
(Image Group LA / Disney via Getty Images)

“Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” Disney said. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”

DeSantis has pushed back against the company multiple times and pledged to oppose the “wokeness” he says the company is promoting.


“Look, there’s policy disputes, and that’s fine,” DeSantis said earlier this month, “but when you’re trying to impose a woke ideology on our state, we view that as a significant threat.”

“This wokeness will destroy this country if we let it run unabated,” DeSantis added. “So in Florida, we take a very big stand against that.”

Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this article.

Darshan Shah
the authorDarshan Shah