Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Debate over Terry Kemple scuttles Hillsborough diversity panel

An email by Terry Kemple referred to a “homosexual agenda.”

An email by Terry Kemple referred to a “homosexual agenda.”

TAMPA — A debate over one man's proposed appointment to a diversity committee led Hillsborough County commissioners on Wednesday to scuttle plans for the panel — for now.

The panel was proposed by Democrat Kevin Beckner, an openly gay commissioner, to recommend ways the county could be more welcoming to people of various cultures. As envisioned, it would have included representatives of a number of ethnic and racial backgrounds, as well as gays and people with disabilities.

The prospective appointee in question is Hillsborough County School Board candidate Terry Kemple, who has led repeated campaigns to block actions by local government that would legitimize homosexuality.

In an email to members of his Christian advocacy group, the Community Issues Council, Kemple said the proposed diversity council likely was "code for some effort to forward the homosexual agenda." Further, the email said, this was not the sort of "important work" commissioners should be doing.

Nevertheless, he applied for an appointment and was initially assigned a slot as a person of Northern and Southern European heritage.

When Beckner obtained a copy of Kemple's email, he had it forwarded to the National Diversity Council, which the county had asked to assist vet applicants.

The head of the national organization said the email should disqualify Kemple. But Kemple told the county he still wished to be considered, which touched off a heated debate Wednesday.

The two main participants were Beckner and Republican Victor Crist, who generally enjoy a collegial relationship. That would not have been obvious from the exchange, which grew louder and louder.

After getting assurances from Kemple that he intended to be a collegial participant and not a "grenade thrower," Crist recommended he be included.

Crist: "To exclude anyone or anyone's perspective from that process really, you know, shoots in the eye of what we're trying to accomplish here."

Beckner: To "use your personal opinions to try to create public policy that discriminates, promotes hatred, bigotry and divides this community, that is where the line must be drawn. … Those types of individuals should not be involved in this type of a process."

Crist: "The bottom line is there's a constituency out there in our county that are voters and residents that thinks and feels the same way as Mr. Kemple does and to say they don't deserve a seat at the table is being exclusive. … We have to begin allowing everyone an opportunity to be able to look everybody straight in the eye and speak their piece and work out their solution."

Beckner: "I would ask everybody here, if you saw an email — and just replace homosexual with disabilities, replace it with woman — if part of the mission of that board is to promote inclusiveness and diversity and yet an individual's on that board and they don't believe that to begin with, why should that individual be included or have a seat on that board?"

Commissioners ultimately voted 4-3 to support Kemple's appointment, with Republicans Crist, Chairman Ken Hagan, Sandy Murman and Al Higginbotham agreeing to include him as an amendment.

That's when Democrat Les Miller pulled a procedural maneuver. Having made the original motion to approve the appointment list without Kemple, he then moved to table its final approval indefinitely. Hagan joined that bloc, joining Miller, Beckner and Republican Commissioner Mark Sharpe in agreeing to table a vote.

Prevailing commissioners can bring the matter back up later.

In the meantime, Beckner plans to keep diversity — specifically as it relates to gay rights — front and center. He told commissioners at the end of the meeting that he plans to ask them to lift a 2005 ban on county government recognition of gay pride events.

Debate over Terry Kemple scuttles Hillsborough diversity panel 05/15/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 11:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 5 things to do under $5 July: Bucs training camp, Dive-In Movie, free Glazer Museum admission

    Events

    1 Bucs Training Camp: The public is invited to a series of free Bucs practices through Aug. 26. And don't forget this season HBO's Hard Knocks will focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including quarterback Jameis Winston, right. There will be discounted concessions, merchandise tents, appearances by …

    LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times (2016) Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.
  2. Rose McGowan will replace Val Kilmer at Tampa Bay Comic Con

    Blogs

    Well, that was fast. Less than a day after announcing that one-time Batman Val Kilmer canceled his appearance at Tampa Bay Comic Con, organizers say actress Rose McGowan will take his place at the geek-tastic event running Friday to Sunday at the Tampa Convention center.

    Rose McGowan and her then-husband Davey Detail in 2013.
  3. Bradenton museum where Snooty the manatee drowned reopens to public (w/video)

    Wildlife

    BRADENTON — A Florida museum where a 69-year-old manatee got trapped in a maintenance tube and drowned has reopened to the public.

    Four-year-old Katie Blair pays her respects to Snooty at a makeshift memorial in front of the museum on Sunday. Katie and her family has visited the aquarium to see Snooty four times this year. 
Snooty was the world's oldest living manatee in captivity and celebrated his 69th birthday Friday at the aquarium. Aquarium officials described Snooty's death as a tragic accident and is being investigated. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]

  4. HomeTeam 100: Players 21-30

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA - Jesuit linebacker Anthony Nelson will help lead the Tigers into the 2017 season. Taken 5-17-17 by Scott Purks
  5. For starters: Cobb on the hill against Orioles

    Blogs

     

    Alex Cobb takes the mound, hoping to duplicate his performance from Friday when he was three outs away from pitching a complete game.