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Robertson, Operation Rescue Lay Seige to Florida

Disney Announces Increased Profits Despite Southern Baptists' Boycott

(June 1998) - Televangelist Pat Robertson this month threatened the residents of Orlando, FL with predictions of terrorism and natural disasters if the city continues to support queer rights and allow gay tourism.

"I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you," Robertson said, referring to rainbow-colored gay pride flags flying from city lampposts in June for Gay Pride month.

Robertson made the comments on his religious talk show The 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network, which he owns.

Robertson, who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, also predicted that tolerance of homosexuality "will bring terrorist bombs, it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor." He told his viewers that his words were "a message of redemption," not hate, and that he was not expressing his own opinion but speaking of Biblical truths.

That same month, members of Operation Rescue, a radical anti-abortion protest group that has expanded to include other family values issues, protested Disney World during the annual "Gay Days." Reasons for the protest included abortion clinics operating in the area of Orlando, pornographic books for sale in the area, and Walt Disney Company's promotion of homosexuality as an aceptable lifestyle.

Disney's policy of allowing queer attendance at its theme parks and providing domestic partner benefits to its employees was criticized by some religious groups, but cheered by many queer organizations.

The corporation's profits seem to agree with earlier studies indicating that providing domestic partner benefits to a company's employees is sound business sense. Despite being boycotted by groups headed by the conservative Southern Baptist Convention, the Walt Disney Company reported record profits this April.

Disney announced record increases in the second quarter of 1998, showing a 22 percent rise in earnings, including 1.2 billion dollars in revenues from its theme parks, which had been a major target of the boycott. Share prices and share revenue have both gone up dramatically in the year since the boycott began.

In an early May appearance on the Today show, Disney's CEO Michael Eisner said, "We are a public company and we would have to announce that [the boycott had hurt us], and we've announced just the opposite. Our earnings have been going up substantially."

Disney has repeatedly stated that it does not schedule or promote "Gay Days," which also occur at other local theme parks which are not owned by Disney.

(compiled by the ATM staff from various news sources, including Reuters)

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