Hillsborough County took a big step Wednesday in moving beyond a shameful past. County commissioners repealed a ban on recognizing gay-sponsored events, a mean-spirited policy that hurt the county's image and its economy. The public can only hope the board will extend its new spirit of equal treatment to other policy issues.
The ban was sponsored by then-Commissioner Ronda Storms and adopted in 2005. Its intent was so toxic that Storms attached a companion policy requiring any repeal to be by super-majority vote. The board met that threshold Wednesday, voting unanimously to repeal the ban. But it came after an ugly show of bigotry from some social conservatives in the audience and a last-minute filibuster by Commissioner Victor Crist, who tried to muddy the waters.
Still, it's results that matter, and this one is both a real and symbolic victory. The county is no longer telling some of its residents they are second-class citizens. It is no longer telling gay travelers, businesses and groups they are unwelcome here. And it is showing overdue regard for its constituents in the city of Tampa, who have championed broad equal rights protections.
This is an encouraging sign that the commission has tired of inflaming social issues and recognizes public opinion has evolved for the better.