Equality Florida Leader Says Parental Rights Bill Will ‘Criminalize Your Existence’

Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, told a group of Disney executives that Florida’s governor and legislative leaders are seeking to erase and criminalize the existence of gay people through the Parental Rights in Education bill.

The video, obtained by a reporter, documented comments made during a meeting among Disney officials and activists that was called to address the legislation recently signed by Governor Ron DeSantis.

During the meeting, Smith said the actions by the governor and legislative leaders harkened back to the 1950s and 1960s. She told the Disney executives that “when they can criminalize your existence and demonize who you are, the next step is to criminalize you and take your kids.”

Smith is a major force in progressive politics. She has been named one of the state’s “Most Powerful and Influential Women” by the Florida Diversity Council and currently serves as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Florida Advisory Committee.

In addition, Equality Florida is associated with Equality Florida Action PAC. The PAC is touted as the “largest organization in Florida devoted to electing pro-equality candidates to all levels of government.”

Under her leadership, Equality Florida has been a major player in the public relations campaign to label the parental rights legislation as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The group released a television advertisement during the debate over the bill that shows a student giving a classroom speech. When the student mentions she has two moms, alarms start going off in the classroom and the teacher is asked to report to the office.

Smith ratcheted up the rhetoric when she called DeSantis a coward.

Smith said, “Governor Ron DeSantis signed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in the most cowardly way possible today. He hid his agenda from the media and the public until the last moment, skulking onto a charter school campus that is exempt from the law and away from students who would protest his presence.”

And now Smith is promoting the idea that the legislation is about criminalizing behavior and taking kids from parents.

She appears to have support from Disney, who said on Monday they will work to have the law repealed.

“The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill should never have been passed and should never have been signed into law,” the Walt Disney Company said in a statement. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.”

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Steve Stewart is a senior contributor at The Florida Capital Star. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Nadine Smith” by Equality Florida. Background Photo “Classroom” by Wokandapix.



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