Lawmakers in Florida are hoping to pass a $75 million incentive package to attract movie studios to film in Florida, but a little noticed provision could deny tax credits to movies that feature gay or other “nontraditional family values.” The Entertainment Industry Economic Development Act seeks to revise the current incentive program — which already offers a tax credit worth 2% of a movie’s production costs if it is “family friendly” — to specifically exclude movies that depict “nontraditional family values” from receiving the additional credit. Here is the relevant provision:
A certified production determined by the Commissioner of Film and Entertainment, with the advice of the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council, to be family-friendly…Family-friendly productions are those that have cross-generational appeal; would be considered suitable for viewing by children age 5 or older…and do not exhibit or imply any act of smoking, sex, nudity, nontraditional family values, gratuitous violence, or vulgar or profane language. Under the current incentive program, review of the final release version is not required and nontraditional family values, gratuitous violence, and implied acts do not exclude a film from receiving this additional credit.
State representative Stephen Precourt, whose district includes Disney World, says the purpose of the credit is to encourage movies to depict cinematic life from the 1960s. “Think of it as like Mayberry,” Precourt told the Palm Beach Post News. “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?” Precourt claims that his provision does not specifically target movies with gay characters but “asked if shows with gay characters should get the tax credit, he said, ‘That would not be the kind of thing I’d say that we want to invest public dollars in.’”
Florida’s gay rights groups are accusing Precourt of subsidizing “discrimination” and marginalizing gay families. Indeed, some studies have found that positive portrayals of gay characters can help shape viewers’ attitudes toward homosexuality. One 2002 study concluded that “watching a film about a nontraditional family with homosexual characters resulted in greater acceptance of homosexuality. In addition, German adolescents exposed over the course of a week to talk show segments featuring discussions of homosexuality later expressed more accepting attitudes toward homosexuals than did adolescents in the control group.”