State Watch

Florida Democrats move fundraiser from Disney World amid criticism

The newly painted Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is seen with the the crest to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the theme park
Associated Press/John Raoux

The Florida Democratic Party said Tuesday that it is moving its major fundraiser from Disney World to another venue in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.

Since March 15, Disney employees have been staging walkouts over the company’s response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would restrict discussion of gender and sexuality in schools. Employees criticized CEO Bob Chapek for speaking out against the bill only after it passed the state legislature. 

The gala was initially scheduled to take place on June 18, a day before Juneteenth and shortly following Father’s Day. 

“Our timing was not ideal,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz wrote in a statement. “We also acknowledge that in our fight for freedom and fairness, we can always do more. In that spirit, the Florida Democratic Party will choose new dates and venues to hold Leadership Blue.”

Florida gubernatorial candidates, such as Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, vowed to boycott the event. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), another candidate, said it was “prudent the party consider other options.”

“While it may seem like a family squabble that spilled into the street, this situation underscores that the many groups, organizations and individuals that make up the FDP can pull together when the cause is right,” Stephen Gaskill, the president of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, wrote on Tuesday

Chapek apologized to employees earlier this month for remaining silent, saying, “You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down.” He also pledged to donate $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign. 

Tags Charlie Crist Disneyworld Don't Say Gay bill Florida

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