Disney stock slipped 2 percent in trading on the New York Stock Market today, after Southern Baptist leaders at their annual meeting in Dallas voted to launch a boycott against the corporate giant--its theme parks, its stores, its movies, its TV network--because of the company's so-called "gay-friendly" policies.
The coming-out episode of Ellen, unofficial "Gay Days" at Disney World, health-care coverage for partners of its gay employees: These are among the moves for which Disney is being read the riot act by the Southern Baptists, the nation's largest Protestant denomination.
The leaders' boycott resolution calls on its 15.7-million members to stop spending time and money on Disney products of all forms. (And Disney has a lot of forms. The company owns ABC-TV, baseball's Anaheim Angels, hockey's Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Touchstone Pictures and Hyperion Books, in addition to the usual suspects--Disneyland, Disney World, Walt Disney Studios. It even owns, with Comcast, the majority of stock in E! Entertainment Television.)
Disney today didn't comment specifically on the boycott. "We are proud that the Disney brand creates more family entertainment of every kind than anyone else in the world," the company's official statement read. "We plan to continue our leadership and in fact we will increase our production of family entertainment."
Liz Tracey, a spokeswoman for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in New York, called the boycott a "cry for media attention motivated by self-interests."
Southern Baptist leaders put Disney on one-year notice last June, announcing that a boycott would be launched unless the home of Mickey Mouse changed its "anti-family, pro-gay" ways.
Then came Ellen. First sitcom star Ellen DeGeneres announced she was gay, and then her character, Ellen Morgan, announced she was gay--becoming the first main character on prime-time TV to "come out" as a homosexual. Ellen is produced by Disney--and the ABC sitcom's groundbreaking openness was the last straw for the Southern Baptists.
Disney has not flinched, nor moved to change its offending policies, in the face of the criticism and boycotts.