LGBT Awareness month rejected by Hillsborough County commissioners
TAMPA -- Hillsborough County commissioners soundly rejected a proposal Wednesday to designate each June as LGBT Pride Awareness and History month in Hillsborough County.
Despite an impassioned plea from Commissioner Kevin Beckner, who sought the designation in light of last month’s massacre at an Orlando gay night club, none of the commissioners supported his motion with a second and it failed as a result.
Because there was not a second, there was no discussion among commissioners, so none of them explained their opposition, nor was there a vote.
Beckner, the county's first openly gay commissioner, last month won support from the commission to raise a LGBT Pride flag for the rest of June after the shooting. However, that show of solidarity was not repeated on Wednesday.
The decision to raise the flag in June grew contentious after Commissioner Stacy White said an employee anonymously complained that it was an affront to her Christian beliefs and created a hostile work environment. He also criticized the county administrator for not warning commissioners that raising the Pride flag could be problematic for some employees.
Religious leaders and LGBT community members and activists spoke for more than 45 minutes on the issue. Beckner addressed many of their concerns from opposition, including those who said that it was singling out and giving special designation to one community.
“What’s before you today is not about special rights, it’s not about special recognition,” Beckner said. “It’s about valuing an important group of our community.”
Many opponents called for a month raising awareness for law enforcement officers instead.
Beckner’s proposed ordinance also called for an annual recognition of the 49 victims of the deadly shooting at Pulse night club every June 12.