Human Rights Campaign Acting President Joni Madison says the LGBTQ organization had already been in contact with Bob Chapek after the Disney CEO pledged to suspend all political donations in Florida following a an internal reaction to his initial silence around the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Madison addressed The Walt Disney Company’s latest pledge at the LGBTQ advocacy group’s annual dinner in Los Angeles, held Saturday night at the JW Marriott LA Live Hotel. Chapek and Disney’s past public silence on controversial bill HB 1557/SB 1834 sparked an internal revolt among the company’s LGBTQ employees and their allies, leading the CEO to apologize Friday for not to be “a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights”.
“You may have seen the news earlier this week that the HRC will not receive any funding from Disney until we see them take real action to defeat hate legislation in Florida,” the HRC’s acting leader said. during his speech at Saturday’s event. “I was happy to talk to Bob yesterday afternoon, and we had a very productive conversation about the need for Disney to pull out all the stops to stop what is happening to its employees and its fans.”
“We need Disney’s partnership to send invoices to [Gov. Ron] Desantis’ office vetoed it. And if that doesn’t happen, to get those bills repealed,” she added.
During the evening, Charlee Corra also took the stage and announced that he, along with his parents Sheri and Roy P. Disney, Walt Disney’s great-nephew, would match $250,000 in donations to HRC.
In addition to suspending political donations to all Florida state officials “pending review,” Chapek also told employees in a company-wide memo that Disney would increase its support for groups. to fight similar legislation in other states and is working on a new framework. for his political donations “which will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values.”
Friday’s decision came after Chapek announced at a Disney shareholder meeting on Wednesday that the company would pledge $5 million to LGBTQ organizations focused on community legal protection — a donation HRC rejected the same day. A source close to the situation said The Hollywood Reporter that HRC is still in active discussions with Disney regarding Chapek’s initial financial commitment as well as the company’s ongoing action regarding state legislation.
In addition to speaking directly to Disney, Madison also acknowledged that the issue is much bigger than just the company.
“It’s not just about Bob Chapek and Disney,” she told the audience. “Now is the gut-checking time for every CEO and company [in] America. Tech companies and entertainment companies here that have an influential presence across the country and around the world have an important role to play in combating state-sanctioned discrimination wherever it exists.
Madison said the country is “at a tipping point,” similar to the 2016 anti-trans restroom legislation, or the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, in North Carolina and highlighted how companies that “refused to expand operations in the state, they pulled out of conferences, they canceled events” impacted the fate of this bill. (It was repealed entirely in December 2020.)
The HRC chairman went on to say that companies need to offer ‘more than inclusive employment policies and a smart pride campaign’ and that corporate values should be ‘guiding principles’ in how a company conducts itself. present to the marginalized, instead of being “marketing materials”. .”
“I promise you lucrative state tax laws won’t mean much to your employees and consumers who are criminalized for supporting their children and pushed into the closet by the justice system,” she said. “We need you to be there for us when it’s hard and when it matters.”
HB 1557/SB 1834, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, would seek to ban classroom discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade and has been called a bill government censorship bill by the ACLU of Florida. This would allow parents to sue school districts for what they perceive to be violations of this law.
On Monday, Disney and CEO Bob Chapek sent an internal memo following reports that the company had donated thousands of dollars to Florida officials who supported and voted for the “Parental Parenthood” bill. Rights in Education”. In it, the Disney executive said the company has not issued a public statement condemning the bill, which passed state law on Tuesday and was sent to DeSantis’ office for signing. , for “they are often armed from one side or the other to further divide and inflame.