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Ron DeSantis snaps at NYC Mayor Eric Adams for pushing Floridians to move to NY in response to 'Don't Say Gay' law

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Ron DeSantis and Eric Adams
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D).

  • Ron DeSantis snapped at New York City mayor Eric Adams' push to get Floridians to move to New York.
  • "You know they're the ones that will force a mask on your face and muzzle you in public," DeSantis said.
  • Adams and other top Democrats have slammed DeSantis over signing the controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill into law.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis snapped at New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday after Adams unveiled an ad campaign to convince Floridians to move to the nation's largest city in response to DeSantis' controversial new "Don't Say Gay" law.

DeSantis argued that free speech is under attack in New York, rather than Florida. 

"New York is doing billboards telling people to 'Come to New York from Florida,' you know, they are wasting taxpayer money on doing that," DeSantis told reporters. "They're saying you can say whatever you want, but you know they're the ones that will force a mask on your face and muzzle you in public."

Adams is behind a new billboard campaign criticizing the "Parental Rights in Education" law in major cities in Florida, including Orlando, Jacksonville, and Tampa. According to the mayor, taxpayer money wasn't used on the campaign. Adams told reporters that private firms donated their creative content and Kinetic, an ad agency, secured the billboard space.

"This is the city of Stonewall," Adams told reporters. "This is the city where we are proud to talk about how you can live in a comfortable setting and not be harassed, not be abused — not only as adults but also as young people."

One of the billboards says, "People say a lot of ridiculous things in New York. 'Don't say gay' isn't one of them."

DeSantis and his staff have repeatedly defended the new Florida law, which restricts classroom teaching on gender and sexuality and would allow parents to opt their children out of counseling and health services, among other measures. The governor's press secretary, Christina Pushaw, went so far as to suggest that critics of the legislation were either "a groomer or at least you don't denounce grooming of 4-8 year old children." Accusing someone of "grooming," in which a sex abuser builds a relationship with their victim, has a long and ugly history in the context of LGBT rights in American politics.

Proponents of the Florida law point out that it doesn't mention the word "gay." One of the most critical pieces of the seven-page legislation is this sentence: "Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standard."

Defenders of the law zero in on the restriction on what can be taught in kindergarten through third grade. But opponents and some legal experts say the vagueness of the second part of the sentence, especially what is defined as  age or developmentally appropriate is what really troubles them. They also worry about teachers censoring themselves

DeSantis also pointed to the firing of Daniela Jampel, a former New York City's law department employee who posed as a journalist and attacked the city's mask mandate for young children at a mayoral press conference, as further evidence that New Yorkers can't say whatever they want.

"They just fired somebody who was criticizing the mayor for masking these toddlers," DeSantis said. "They still make toddlers wear masks in New York. That is just so fundamentally wrong."

Adams told reporters on Wednesday that he stood by the campaign, adding that DeSantis was "just wrong" to support the new law.

"I like rivalries with other states," he said. "I have traveled to Florida, and I'm trying to steal their companies. I'm going all over the country, and they've been doing it to us for a long time, coming to New York, taking our businesses away, so, listen, watch out."

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