Tampa council's transgender vote ruffles some feathers
Last Thursday, the Tampa City Council preliminarily approved expanding the city's human rights ordinance to offer protection to transgendered people. Other than a discussion about whether the new law would protect the occasional cross dresser, the vote came with little opposition, passing by a 7-0 vote.
Every speaker at the meeting spoke in favor of the change. But when the council takes its final vote on the ordinance Nov. 19, they could face a different scene. Terry Kemple, president of the Community Issues Council, an organization with the stated mission of promoting Judeo-Christian values, is rallying troops to fight the new protections.
“We’re trying to mobilize people to stand in opposition to what is a bad law,” Kemple said. “It discriminates against Christians and provides special privileges for people based on sexually aberrant behavior.” Kemple sent an e-mail to supporters warning them that, among other things, the Tampa law will allow sexual predators to go into restrooms designated for the opposite sex and force business owners, regardless of their religious beliefs, to hire cross dressers. Already, Council members have received a handful of e-mails from people who oppose the measure.
In response to Kemple’s actions, members of Tampa Bay Pride also say they plan to send representatives to Thursday’s meeting.
"Now that Kemple sent out his alert to his people we’re mobilizing furiously,” said Zeke Fread, director of Pride Tampa Bay.
Kemple said no one from his organization went to last week’s meeting because they learned of the vote too late to organize. Fread said his group didn’t go last week because they knew the expanded ordinance would pass.
Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer