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Baptist State Convention Calls for Boycott of Disney

November 16, 1995

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ A powerful Florida Baptist group has asked its 1 million members to boycott Walt Disney Co.’s parks and products, saying Disney showed a lack of moral leadership by extending health insurance to partners of homosexual workers.

The resolution was approved unanimously Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Florida Baptist State Convention, which represents most of the state’s Baptists.

Members should ``prayerfully reconsider their continued purchase and support of Disney products,″ said the group’s resolution.

It was prompted by Disney’s decision last month to extend insurance benefits to partners of homosexual employees, said convention spokeswoman Barbara Denman.

``That was probably the final straw,″ she said. ``Historically, Disney had reinforced America’s values and we noticed there had been an erosion in its moral leadership.″

The non-binding resolution criticized Disney for promoting combination cruise-and-theme park vacations with ship lines, saying that promotes alcohol use and gambling.

It also said Disney hosted ``homosexual and lesbian theme nights″ at its parks and produced ``questionable material″ through subsidiaries such as the Miramax movie company, which Disney acquired in 1993.

Disney spokesman John Dreyer said the company ``regrets (the group) has chosen to take that position.″

``The standard against which our commitment to family entertainment should be measured is the value and high quality of Disney-branded family entertainment that we produce and the fact that we are the world’s leader in producing entertainment for the entire family,″ he said.

Disney announced in October that it would extend insurance benefits to the domestic partners of its homosexual employees, beginning Jan. 1. The company said the new benefits plan was in line with its policy of not discriminating against workers based on race or sexual preference.

As for the group’s other charges, Dreyer said that gays and lesbians who hold an annual convention in Orlando visit the park, but Disney has no official ties with that meeting.

``We host them the same as we host thousands of people each day, all of whom come up to our ticket windows, buy tickets and come into the park,″ Dreyer said.

The resolution to boycott Disney was introduced Tuesday by two pastors.

``If we as Christians feel that they’re shying away from traditional family values, we’re going to have to shy away from putting money in their pockets,″ one of the sponsors, Rev. Arthur Rathje of Marianna, told The St. Petersburg Times.

The group plans to introduce the resolution at the Southern Baptist Convention when it meets in June in New Orleans, Denman said. That group has 16 million members nationwide.

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