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Gay rights leader blasts appointment to Hillsborough human relations board





A state gay-rights leader is blasting the recent appointment of an anti-gay rights activist to the Hillsborough County Human Relations Board.

Hillsborough County commissioners voted 5-2 Dec. 15 to appoint Terry Kemple to its Human Relations Board, a 13-member panel that hears complaints about discrimination based on race, gender, disability and other factors, excluding sexual orientation. Kemple has been a long-standing and vocal opponent of extending such protections to gays and lesbians.

The primary purpose of the the Human Relations Board is to 'encourage equality among all people.'" said Nadine Smith, executive director of the gay-rights advocacy group Equality Florida. "By appointing Terry Kemple, the Hillsborough County Commission has selected someone who stands in direct opposition to everything this board is supposed to represent."

The statement asks commissioners to revoke the appointment.

Kevin Beckner, the County Commission's only openly gay member, and Les Miller, both voted in favor of someone other than Kemple to fill the human relations vacancy. It should be noted that the Hillsborough County Commission for the past several years has actively blocked the extension of discrimination protections to people based on sexual orientation.

Kemple said he put his name forward because he wants to serve the community.

"That board is about equal rights for everyone, not special rights for anyone," Kemple said. "That's the big difference between Nadine Smith's philosophy and mine. I think that Nadine and other people in her organization are attempting to create special rights and special privileges for people based on sexual preference."

[Last modified: Thursday, February 17, 2011 4:31pm]


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