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Maryland's Republican governor blasts DeSantis over state's 'don't say gay' bill

"I think the bill was kind of absurd and not something that would have happened in our state,” Hogan added

April 4, 2022 5:06pm

Updated: April 5, 2022 9:36am

Maryland's Republican Gov. Larry Hogan criticized his gubernatorial counterpart in Florida after Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to retaliate against Disney for speaking out against the state's Parental Rights in Education bill.

"The whole thing seems like just a crazy fight," Hogan said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "He wants to criticize Disney for expressing how they feel about that bill. I mean they have every right to — we have a thing called freedom of speech." 

"I think the bill was kind of absurd and not something that would have happened in our state,” he added.

Ever since DeSantis announced House Bill 1557 last month, critics have dubbed the measure as the “Don’t Say Gay bill,” a move which conservatives have blasted as misleading and intellectually dishonest.

According to the bill’s text, the legislation would serve to “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children” by prohibiting schools from enacting policies that prevent the disclosure to parents of “critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.”

Furthermore, the bill prohibits “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” in kindergarten through third grade.

After the bill was signed on March 28, Disney -- Florida's largest private employer -- voiced opposition to the law and the company’s CEO Bob Chapek told attendees at the company’s annual meeting of shareholders that his team has been “opposed to the bill from the outset.”

"We were opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind-the-scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers—on both sides of the aisle," Chapek said at the meeting.

Last week, however, DeSantis retaliated by signaling support for stripping Disney of its 55-year-old special status that allows the company to operate as an independent government around its Orlando-based parks, claiming the company had "crossed the line" with its statement, The Hill reported.

"Disney has alienated a lot of people now," DeSantis said at a West Palm Beach press conference. "And so the political influence they're used to wielding, I think has dissipated. And so the question is, why woud you want to have special privileges in the law at all? And I don't think that that we should."

Although Florida lawmakers are presently considering repealing the 1967 state law that established the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Florida's legislative session has concluded for the year and legislators would not be able to repeal the act until they meet again, unless DeSantis or legislative leaders convene a special session.