UPDATED, 10:55 AM: Human Rights Campaign Interim President Joni Madison said last night that she has spoken to Disney CEO Bob Chapek, but did not reveal specifics about their conversation.
Madison revealed the contact in a speech at the organization’s Los Angeles dinner.
“You may have seen news earlier this week that HRC is not going to take any funding from Disney until we see them take real action to defeat hateful legislation in Florida. You may have also seen that — 36 hours later — Disney CEO Bob Chapek apologized to his employees and committed to suspending all political giving in Florida,” Madison said..
“I was glad to speak to Bob yesterday afternoon, and we had a very productive conversation about the need for Disney to put real muscle into stopping what’s happening to their employees and to their fans. We need Disney’s partnership in getting the bills heading to Desantis’s desk vetoed. And if that doesn’t happen, to get these bills repealed. But this is not just about Bob Chapek and Disney. This is about every CEO and company in America.”
Madison went on to say “It’s gut check time for every CEO and company in America,” and said they have an important role to play “in fighting state-sanctioned discrimination wherever it exists. We need more than inclusive employment policies and a clever Pride campaign. We need CEOs to be taking actions that meet the moment we’re in.”
She concluded, “We need you to be there for us when it is hard and when it counts.” And to states and politicians pushing anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-trans legislation, Madison warned: “We’re going to hit you where it counts. In the wallet. In the war chest. And at the ballot box.”
EARLIER: The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer civil rights organization, said today it will not accept any funding from the Walt Disney Co. without a greater commitment to the LGBTQ+ agenda.
The HRC was responding to a statement by Bob Chapek, CEO of the Walt Disney Company, at Disney’s quarterly shareholder meeting. His statement was the company’s first public statement of opposition to Florida’s House Bill 1557, the Don’t Say Gay or Trans bill. The Florida legislation would bar teachers from talking about LGBTQ+ issues or people until a certain grade level was reached.
After remaining silent as the bill made its way through the Florida state legislature over the past few weeks, Chapek finally spoke out against the pending anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, and spoke up for LGBTQ+ people in Florida and across the country. In his statement, Chapek shared that Disney recently joined more than 150 other companies in a national business statement opposing anti-LGBTQ state legislation organized by HRC and Freedom for All Americans. He also pledged a significant financial donation to LGBTQ+ organizations.
That funding was rejected in a statement today by Joni Madison, interim president of the Human Rights Campaign.
“The Human Rights Campaign will not accept this money from Disney until we see them build on their public commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure that dangerous proposals, like Florida’s Don’t Say Gay or Trans bill, don’t become dangerous laws, and if they do, to work to get them off the books,” Madison’s statement said.
Madison contended that businesses have “had a major impact” in LGBTQ+ rights. She contended that Disney’s delayed response in Florida was a “regrettable stance.” However, she conceded, “Today they took a step in the right direction. But it was merely the first step.
“This should be the beginning of Disney’s advocacy efforts rather than the end,” she concluded.
Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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