Proposed Law Would Deny Tax Breaks to Films That Feature Gay Characters

Well, our hopes for a sequel to The Birdcage just got dampened. That's because a new bill that increases tax incentives to lure television and movie production to Florida would deny those tax breaks to films that feature gay characters. And unlike the ultraconservative Republican politician in The Birdcage, it doesn't seem the bill's sponsor, Rep. Stephen Precourt, will have a change of heart anytime soon.

Current laws prevent tax breaks for films that feature smoking, sex, nudity, or profane language. The proposed changes make Florida guidelines seem even more like the Hays Code that censored Hollywood from the the '30s to the '60s. Thankfully, Precourt hasn't borrowed more ideas from that censorship office and written in language that would also disallow interracial relationships, suggestive dancing, and "lustful kisses."

"Precourt says he's not targeting the gay community but that shows with gay characters would not be something he'd want 'to invest public dollars in,' " reports the Associated Press.

Besides not offering tax breaks to films that "exhibit or implied act" of nontraditional family values, films with gratuitous violence would also be left out.

In recent years, Florida has slipped from third in the country in terms of film production, only behind California and New York, to out of the top ten. Other states have aggressively offered more generous tax credits.

Recently, the cast and crew of the show Burn Notice, one of the few TV shows to actually shoot in Florida, lobbied the legislature to increase tax incentives for show business productions. They claim they've paid nearly $25 million in wages to Floridians and booked more than 7,000 nights in hotel rooms during the shooting of the show. The show received about $5.2 million in tax breaks last fiscal year but could find itself out of luck depending on how the "gratuitous violence" clause is interpreted and wouldn't be free to introduce LGBT characters.

The bill, which also has a companion bill in the Senate, still has to go through various committees before it reaches the House floor.