A "family-friendly" bill is set to pass in Florida that would deny tax credits to movie and TV productions that feature gay characters, the Palm Beach Post reported this week. State tax laws already offer a 2% tax credit on production costs of "family-friendly" productions; the bill would raise that credit to 5% and ban productions promoting "nontraditional family values."
Florida regulations regard "family-friendly" as material suitable for five-year-old viewers. Among films recently shot in Florida, Baitshop featured too much alcohol, and Confessions of a Shopaholic too much violence, to qualify for increased tax credits, according to The New York Times. And forget about movies like the 2006 Miami Vice remake (pictured), which surely hits several hot buttons at once (and which could have used a little financial help).
The bill, approved unanimously on Wednesday by the Florida House Economic Development Policy Committee, awaits passage into law by the Florida House Finance and Tax Council, and is likely to pass, the Times reported.
The bill's sponsor, Stephen Precourt, a Republican State Representative from Orlando, said at a press conference: "Think of it as like Mayberry," referring to the town on The Andy Griffith Show. "That's when I grew up -- the '60s. That's what life was like....Like it used to be, you know?" Shows with gay characters, Precourt said, would "not be the kind of thing I'd say that we want to invest public dollars in."
A Palm Beach Post reader responded: "gomer was gay, and andy wasn't married if i remember correctly....he was a single parent family with aunt bea as his housekeeper.....and she wasn't married either. hmmmmm.....so, is this the type of family values they want to subsidze with gay tax dollars? cause gay floridians pay lots of taxes. duh!!!"
Florida Out of the Top 10
State film-production tax credit programs like the New York State Governor's Office for Motion Picture and Television Development's Empire State Film Production Tax Credit Program routinely include regulatory clauses eschewing "sexually explicit conduct" in funded productions. (What elected official, after all, wants to admit to using public dollars to encourage the porn industry?)
But eQualityGiving, a website that tracks politicians' "equality goals" regarding sexual orientation, views the Florida bill as an attack on human rights. And Miami New Times, the city's free alt-weekly, jested that the proposed law would ban any putative sequel to the 1996 hit The Birdcage, a gay-themed story filmed in South Beach.
More seriously, the weekly also noted that Florida -- once ranked third in film production revenue, after California and New York, has lately fallen out of the top 10 states, unable to compete with other locations' ampler tax credits. Even USA Networks's Burn Notice -- a rare TV show that still shoots in Florida, from which it received $5.2 million in tax breaks last fiscal year -- may have to find a new location, if future storylines involve violence and LGBT characters.
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