Two decades ago, Hillsborough County Commissioners removed gays and lesbians from the list of protected groups in their human rights ordinance, a move that alienated the LGBT community. Then in June of 2005 the BOCC went even further, imposing a ban on county recognition of gay pride events.
Ronda Storms, a commissioner at the time, led the call for the 2005 ban. Reacting to complaints about a public library display promoting Gay Pride month, she proposed an ordinance to her board colleagues that would ban any county promotion of gay pride events or displays.
The board supported that motion on a 5-1 vote — not 6-1, as some stories have reported. Commissioner Ken Hagan was out of the room for that vote. However, Hagan did vote with the majority on a follow-up measure stating that the ban could only be overturned by a 5-2 vote.
"I felt then it was a blatantly discriminatory policy," says Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, who intends on proposing a repeal of the controversial ordinance this Wednesday morning at the County Commissioner's next regularly scheduled meeting.