Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough adds conservative activist Terry Kemple to diversity council

Terry Kemple is running for School Board in District 4, which includes the Brandon and Valrico area.

Terry Kemple is running for School Board in District 4, which includes the Brandon and Valrico area.

TAMPA — Hillsborough County finalized its Diversity Advisory Council on Wednesday, giving socially conservative activist and School Board candidate Terry Kemple a spot on the panel after all.

The unanimous vote capped months of controversy and discussion about whether Kemple's inclusion would undermine the council's goal of making the county more welcoming to all.

Kemple's appointment came after Commissioners Kevin Beckner and Les Miller stated their concerns about his inclusion. Beckner, who is gay, said previously that he would go along in the interest of having the committee get to work.

On Wednesday, Beckner referred to Pope Francis while making the point that everyone in the community deserves respect and freedom from discrimination.

"When he was asked how he felt about homosexuality, he said, 'Who am I to judge?' " Beckner said of the pope's recent statements. "And his response stuck with me."

Beckner said that, while he is not Catholic, he would take the same approach in considering Kemple's application to serve on the committee representing people of northern and southern European descent.

Miller made it clear he wasn't keen on Kemple's appointment, adding that he doesn't like those who foment trouble or discrimination in the community. He warned that any attempt by Kemple to use the position as a platform to promote discrimination or bigotry will have consequences.

"If you come across as you have in the past, I will do everything in my power to dissolve this committee or remove you," Miller said.

Kemple, a Valrico resident, opposes gay equality measures and has repeatedly sparred with Beckner. In 2012, he led a protest against school appearances by speakers connected to the Council for American-Islamic Relations, which he accused of having terrorist ties. The organization denied the allegation and called Kemple anti-Muslim.

In emails to supporters of his Christian advocacy group, the Community Issues Council, Kemple has said the diversity council is part of Beckner's campaign to "forward the homosexual agenda."

Kemple is seeking the School Board seat in District 4, which includes the Brandon and Valrico area, in 2014.

Commissioners actually took the step of voting separately to approve the ethnic category Kemple would represent to ensure the panel was created with or without his participation. As it turns out, both votes were unanimous.

"I'm glad I'm on it," Kemple said. "I represent a large constituency in this community who deserve to have a member on that panel who isn't afraid to speak with clarity and courtesy, to express their position on things that come before the board."

Hillsborough adds conservative activist Terry Kemple to diversity council 10/02/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 3, 2013 12:09am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Romano: C'mon Rick Baker, tell us how you really feel about Trump

    Local Government

    A brief timeline of presidential politics in St. Petersburg:

    Rick Baker, center,  waves to drivers while holding a sign that reads "Thank You" along with his family and supporters.
  2. In St. Petersburg mayor's race, Rick vs. Rick is also Rays vs. Rowdies

    Local

    ST. PETERSBURG — Maybe before the NFL's national anthem uproar you assumed professional sports were apolitical endeavors. You'd be dead wrong in the case of St. Petersburg's mayoral race.

    Rep. Janet Cruz D-Tampa, left, Rafaela Amador, Tampa Bay Rays Senior Director of Public Relations, center, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman talk with reporters during a press conference at Signature Flight Support in Tampa after returning from Ponce, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 11. (WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times)
  3. What we've learned from the Bucs' and Bills' playoff droughts

    Bucs

    Is it possible for the Buccaneers and Bills to be any farther off the NFL's radar? You get the feeling schedule-makers didn't think twice about putting this one down for 1 p.m. Sunday — the let's-hope-no-one-notices time slot.

    [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Motorcycle driver killed after hitting turning car on Keene Road in Largo

    Accidents

    A motorcycle driver was killed Friday evening when he struck a turning car, Largo police said.

  5. Drive-by shooting near Robles Park injures four people standing outside in crowd

    Crime

    TAMPA — Four people standing in a crowd were hit by bullets during a drive-by shooting near Robles Park in Tampa late Friday, Tampa police said.