GaYBOR challenges Hillsborough Commission

GaYBOR Days proclamation is the issue, but will Commissioners respond?

CL does know that Christian conservative activist Terry Kemple has called on members of his Community Issues Council to contact Board members, telling them that to sign the proclamation would be a violation of the infamous 2005 board vote to ban gay pride.

Whether that's accurate or not is unknown, since attorneys with the county's office have failed to return several calls on whether signing such a proclamation would be a violation of the gay pride ban.

On Friday morning, Commissioner Sharpe told CL that his refusal to sign the proclamation had nothing to do with Kemple or anybody else. He says that his office has its own "set policy" on how to handle such proclamations, and says of the GaYbor District, "I cheer that entire community for what they’re doing to make Ybor City thrive, I love it. " But he says it's "a slippery slope," the decision on which groups to support and which ones not to, and therefore he doesn't sign them at all now.

He elaborated, "When I walk into a business, I don’t want to know, nor do I care about your sexual orientation. It's just not a factor to me." But he added that he deeply respects the diversity that the GaYbor Coalition has brought to Ybor City."

CL will have more on the bigger story of gay rights in Hillsborough County in our issue coming out this Thursday.

  • GaYbor District Coalition head Carrie West

This weekend gay pride events take place in the Bay area, with the major parade taking place in St. Petersburg this Saturday.

Next week in Tampa's Ybor City district, the gay community will celebrate GaYbor Days, a five-day celebration promoted by the GaYbor District Coalition — the group of gay-owned or gay-supported businesses (of which Carrie West, the head of the group, says nearly two-thirds are actually businesses owned by straight people).

Recently a proclamation was signed by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn honoring GaYbor Days, as was one by none other than Barack Obama.

But a similar proclamation representing Hillsborough County has only been signed by two of the seven members of the board, Democrats Kevin Beckner and Les Miller.

We'd like to tell you why the other five members, all Republicans, haven't signed the proclamation, but none of them — with the exception of Mark Sharpe — have returned CL's calls or e-mails to let us know why.

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