About twelve years ago, Disney World’s first “Gay Day” caught some unsuspecting families off guard while vacationing in the famed theme park. When the Southern Baptist Convention called for a boycott of Disney World, gay rights groups rallied to support the theme park while social conservatives hoped for a lasting impact as a result of their movement.
Organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Christian Action Network (CAN) backed the Baptists, turning a deaf ear to Disney’s attempt at “acceptance,” though then-CEO Michael Eisner said in 1997 that the boycott “hadn’t had a financial effect.” In 2005, the Baptists lifted the boycott. And Disney went back to its old tricks. Last week, they announced that gay couples are now welcome to participate in their pricy “Fairy Tale” wedding package, which previously excluded those without official wedding licenses.
According to Disney Parks and Resorts Spokesman Donn Walker, the company is, "…not in the business of making judgments about the lifestyle of our guests.” But gay marriage tops the list of social issues slicing America in half, and this decision propels Disney again into the center of that political controversy. It also makes a strong statement about Disney’s foundational moral principles.
“Since Disney hosted its first gay day, it was obvious they stopped reflecting the values of America and began trying to shape them,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, on an April 11 radio broadcast. “This latest move shows that instead of creating wholesome entertainment for children, as Mr. Disney did, the Disney enterprise is now seeking to create fantasies for homosexuals.”
All it took for Disney to alter their standards was a single “inquiry” from one gay guest and a little criticism from a pro-gay web site, according to Fox News and Reuters reports last week. These two minor incidents prompted the rule change at warp speed, lest Disney be accused of perpetrating anti-gay behavior.
Disney Senior Vice-President of Communications Leslie Goodman told the Washington Post, "This is the very logical extension of a business we are already in.” But is it a “logical” transition when the action is apparently not a business move at all, but a political one? Over half the country vehemently opposes the idea of gay marriage and Disney doesn’t seem concerned with respecting the long-standing value of legal, traditional marriage.
Last year, the Senate voted down a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In fact, a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said that 68% of respondents did not think same sex marriages should be recognized by the law as valid.
Ironically, Disney’s target audience is families with children, a majority of those individuals being opposed to gay marriage. Disney has become an tool for a movement that threatens to eradicate the family values on which Walt Disney founded his brand.
“The homosexual [movement]…want to use Disney as much as they possibly can to legitimize their particular lifestyle,” said American Family Association President Tim Wildmon in an April 10 news report. “And the Disney Corporation in this case has gone along with them.”
In 2003, CAN released a videotape from Disney’s Gay Day documenting, “multiple acts of alleged public lewdness and contain[ing] extensive and explicit nudity.” The group maintained that “the Disney theme parks remained open to the general public, including children” during their taping.
Such evidence proves that “the name Disney means something different today than it did 20 years ago,” said Rev. Lou Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition Sheldon in a 2003 CNSNews report. "As long as Walt Disney owned the company and his family, they had a policy at Disneyland that this didn’t happen…”
After the 10 year boycott, Rev. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission told the Catholic Exchange in 2005 said this: “For most of our people, Disney used to be different. Disney was supposed to be a cut above the others. We expected better from Disney. Today, Disney is the same as everybody else. I think that most of our families now treat Disney no differently than they do other companies out in Hollywood. The boycott helped knock Disney down a notch."
The magic and innocence of 1930’s primitive Disney has been replaced with a politically correct fairy tale of disillusioned tolerance. And just like your childhood, the magic is gone. A name once supreme has now become common.