Commissioners Repeal Ban On Gay Promotion

An 8-year-old ban on government promotion of gay pride events and displays was unanimously repealed by Hillsborough County commissioners today after hours-long public comment and board discussion.

The vote, a rallying cause by the county’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents, was greeted by rousing applause and shouts of approval from a majority in the packed boardroom. Supporters of the move to repeal the ban, sponsored by openly gay Commissioner Kevin Beckner, said the vote erased the stigma of bigotry and injustice instituted in 2005.

“The bottom line is this was indefensible; it was discrimination plain and simple,” said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida. “I have to say Commissioner Beckner was amazing in his leadership, especially when others were trying to muddy the waters.”

Smith was referring to proposed amendments by commission Chairman Ken Hagan and Commissioner Victor Crist that would have set parameters on gay pride events. Crist wanted limits on gay events that violate community standards regarding obscenity, pornography and prurient displays. Hagan wanted wording that said gay pride events have to go through the same funding policies and board approval as other county promotions.