Christian Group Seeks Disney Flyover OK
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ A conservative Christian organization wants the no-fly zone over Walt Disney World to be removed so it can fly banners touting an anti-homosexuality Web site over a gay festival this week.
The Virginia-based Family Policy Network claims the no-fly zone infringes upon its right to preach freely during the Gay Days celebration.
The group hopes to include as part of its outreach planes pulling banners reading: ``JESUS CHRIST: HOPE FOR HOMOSEXUALS.COM,″ according to Joe Glover, the organization’s president.
The 13th annual Gay Days celebration, which starts Thursday and lasts four days, is expected to draw more than 100,000 gay and lesbian tourists. While Disney doesn’t sponsor Gay Days, which includes several events planned around the weekend under no single organizer, the Magic Kingdom theme park is the center of its activities.
The airspace above Disney World has been free of aircraft since March, when the government said the resort was a potential terrorism target.
A lawsuit by the Family Policy Network and an aerial advertising company seeking a temporary rollback of the restrictions is expected to be filed in federal court in Orlando this week.
Stephen Crampton, chief counsel for the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy, said Disney wanted no-fly zones around its properties to prevent competitors from advertising. Terrorism fears gave the entertainment giant the cover it needed, he said.
``We’re not advertising; we’re trying to reach a specific target audience with a very specific, noncommercial message,″ said Crampton, whose association will handle the case for the Christian group. ``But Disney and Disney alone has managed to achieve a total ban, effectively, on such speech.″
Disney spokeswoman Rena Callahan said the ``safety and enjoyment″ of its guests were the only reasons the company wanted the no-fly zones.
Nan Schultz, vice president of Orlando Gay Days 2003, refused to discuss the organization’s plane plans.
``We like to comment on the positive issues of Gay Days: the economic impact to the area, the 125,000 people coming here to have a good time,″ Schultz said.
On the Net:
Family Policy Network: http://www.familypolicy.net/
Orlando Gay Days 2003: http://www.gaydays.com/