Monday, March 8, 2010

No "Will & Grace" for Florida

Thanks to Joe.My.God. who led me to Michael Bender's story at the Palm Beach Post. 

It looks like movies with gay characters won't be welcome in Florida anytime soon.  It's common for states to offer tax credits to attract film makers.  The economic benefits of film making are huge: just think of all the restaurants, hotels and retail that would benefit.  What isn't so common is for a state legislature to dictate just what sort of movies can be given these tax incentives.

A bill before the Florida legislature would provide millions in tax incentives to film makers as long as there are no gay characters.  The wording is a little more discreet than that, although not much more.  The bill states that movies that movies with "nontraditional family values" would be prohibited from receiving funds.

Senator Stephen Precourt (photo to the right....very far right), a supporter of the bill whose district includes Walt Disney World, said he was not targeting the gay community by including the term "nontraditional family values." But when asked if shows with gay characters should get the tax credit, he said, "That would not be the kind of thing I'd say that we want to invest public dollars in."

Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger said nontraditional family values could include anything from "drug abuse to excessive drunkenness to homosexual families."

Hmmm.  What year is this again?  I thought comparing being gay to drug abuse went out with the Trent Lott era.

1 comment:

  1. Bill Pending in Florida Legislature would discourage depiction of "non-traditional" families in films
    Florida Together Urges Florida Legislature to Remove Provision
    from Proposed Bill

    House Bill 697 and Senate Bill 1430, filed in January for the 2010 Legislative Session in Tallahassee, would revise the state's financial incentive program to provide tax credits to the film industry, but an additional "family friendly" credit would be provided only if film makers censor films to avoid certain subject matters, including depiction of "non-traditional family values". The provision could cause filmmakers who film in Florida to avoid depictions of non-traditional families such as gay families, single-parent families, families where grandkids are raised by their grandparents, etc.

    Real-life families come in all shapes and sizes. Marginalizing single-parent families, gay families and other non-traditional families by instituting 1950's-style movie censorship does nothing to support real-life families or help Florida's struggling economy.

    Florida Together learned of the problematic language after the House Economic Development Policy Committee voted unanimously to move the House bill out of that committee last Wednesday on March 3, 2010.

    We then immediately engaged some of Florida Together's local member organizations, such as SAVE Dade and Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, to oppose this provision of the proposed bill, making use of positive relationships with legislators from their local regions.

    Since learning of the problematic language last Wednesday, we communicated with several legislators, including some bill sponsors, and continued to do so as recently as today. What we learned from the sponsors we've spoken to, including Democrats and Republicans, was that each expressed surprise and concern when we told them the bill included the "non-traditional family" language, and each agreed to look into this right away.

    According to the Palm Beach Post, Chairwoman Jennifer Carroll, R-Fleming Island, who praised the bill for promoting "positive social aspects" when her committee voted for the bill, later she didn't know about the prohibition on family-friendly credits, and that the language should be changed.

    "What someone could see as a traditional family value could be different for another person," Carroll was quoted as saying in the Post. "We'll have to delve into that."

    Florida Together will be working with our members and partners on trying to get the problematic language changed through the committee process over the next few days. If that does not resolve the problem, our community and organizations will need to work together to draw attention and opposition to the problematic language in this bill.

    Ted Howard, Executive Director

    Florida Together is the advocacy arm of Florida Together Federation, a federation of local organizations. Florida Together's website is coming soon. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about Florida Together Federation, our 501(c)3 arm, visit that website at, or visit the Facebook page at Please note that Florida Together and Florida Together Federation are affiliated, but separate and distinct legal entities.