The entertainment giant is now among a group of Hollywood studios in support of codifying some LGBTQ marriage rights into federal law.
After publicly locking horns with Gov. Ron DeSantis over HB 1557 —popularly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill— which bans discussion of issues relating to sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, the Walt Disney Co. has landed another blow against the Republican governor’s anti LGBTQ agenda.
The entertainment giant is now among a group of Hollywood studios—including Sony, Comcast, NBCUniversal and Apple—to sign an open letter in support of codifying some LGBTQ marriage rights into federal law.
Passed in 1996, DOMA barred the federal government from acknowledging same-gender couples married under state law. It also didn’t require states to legally respect same-sex marriages performed in other states.
In the United States v. Windsor 2013 US Supreme Court ruling, same-gender couples were no longer excluded when it came to Social Security survivor benefits and equitable tax treatment, among other benefits. However, statements made in Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, suggest that the court could be looking to overturn rulings like Windsor.
‘The Right to Be Respected and Protected Under the Law’
The Respect for Marriage Act would not cover all rights established under the court’s stance in Obergefell v. Hodges, which was decided in 2015 and determined that the fundamental right to marry includes same-sex partnerships.
“Americans from all walks of life, across demographics, geographies, and party lines agree that loving, committed couples have the right to be respected and protected under the law,” reads the letter representing more than 5.3 million employees. It adds that “no person, including same-sex couples and interracial couples protected by this bill, should fear their marriage will not be recognized by the federal government or their employment benefits threatened.”
“Codifying a consistent and inclusive federal standard conferred by the Loving, Windsor, and Obergefell rulings will help to ensure marriage equality, eliminate confusion for employers and enable us to retain and attract talent,” continues the letter. “No person, including same-sex couples and interracial couples protected by this bill, should fear their marriage will not be recognized by the federal government or their employment benefits threatened.”
A Strong Opponent
This is not the first time the Disney Company stands in opposition to DeSantis. The company’s opposition of the Parental Rights/”Don’t Say Gay” bill that took effect July 1 provoked a backlash from GOP lawmakers. In April Ron DeSantis signed legislation that will strip the Walt Disney World Resort and five other special districts in Florida of their self-governing powers. This would put the burden on local homeowners, who could get hit with big tax bills if they have to absorb bond debt from Disney.
For its part, Walt Disney World, which employs more than 77,000 Floridians and is a major driver of tourism revenue for the state, is stopping its political giving in Florida, which runs into the tens of millions, and promises to work to repeal the law or get it overturned in the courts.