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With conservative senators pushing for legislation that would inhibit the production of films and television shows featuring gay characters, Florida has become the latest state to take a stance on the raging issue of homosexuality beyond the boundaries of the same-sex marriage debate.
The new bill, sponsored by republican representative Stephen Precourt, aims to stimulate Florida’s Hollywood-esque entertainment industry by luring producers with fiscal incentives. However, the sizable tax credits being offered to production studios are limited only to those creating “family-friendly” projects – any film or television show involving gay characters is explicitly excluded from these tax breaks. Homosexuality is the newest addition to a long list of disqualifying factors which currently include smoking, violence, nudity, and profane language.
In an interview on Tuesday, Rep. Stephen Precourt stated that he was “not targeting the gay community,” but referred to films with gay characters as something he “wouldn’t want to invest public dollars in.”
“Think of it as like Mayberry,” Precourt told The Palm Beach Post. “That’s when I grew up – the 60s. That’s what life was like. I want Florida to be known for making those kinds of movies. Disney movies for kids and all that stuff. Like it used to be, you know?”
Ironically, two of Florida’s most successful films to date have been the critically acclaimed hits Scarface and The Birdcage – a drug drama and a gay cabaret comedy.
Opponent Ted Howard, executive director of Florida Together, also spoke to Palm Beach, criticizing Precourt’s bill for taking an “outdated” approach.
“Instituting 1950s-style movie censorship does nothing to support real life families or help Florida’s struggling economy,” Howard said.
Despite widespread opposition, conservative forces in Florida are actively pushing the proposal. If the bill manages to reach the House floor and is approved, it can be safe to assume that we won’t be seeing a Birdcage sequel anytime soon.