Hillsborough County Commissioners reject LGBT Pride awareness month

Hillsborough County commissioners rejected a proposal Wednesday to recognize June as LGBT Pride Awareness and History month.

Commissioner Kevin Beckner proposed the motion as a way to “come together and show solidarity” in light of the 49 victims who were killed in the Orlando mass shooting at a gay nightclub June. Beckner’s motion would have also recognized June 12 as a day of remembrance for the victims who were killed.

“It is only when we as government break down the barriers of discrimination that we can move the community forward,” Beckner said.

The room was notably quiet when it came time for a second member of the board to support Beckner’s motion. None of his fellow commissioners seconded it. There was no vote and no one explained why they didn’t second the motion.

Beckner, the county’s first openly gay commissioner, initially brought the measure to the board a few days after the Orlando shooting last month. At the time, the board supported Beckner’s proposal to raise an LGBT Pride flag at the County Center for the remainder of June in solidarity with those who died or were injured in the Orlando shooting.

Several community members and religious leaders spoke against Beckner’s proposal during Wednesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting.

“Is this truly an effort to recognize all victims of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando?” said Christian conservative activist Terry Kemple. “Or, is this a cold, calculated effort to exploit the deaths of those who were murdered and the pain and suffering of the survivors, for government promotion of the LGBT agenda?”

Some opponents called for a month showing support for and raising awareness for law enforcement officers instead.

To this, Beckner explained that May has already been designated as Law Enforcement Appreciation Month. He also stated that the county annually celebrates Black History month, Women’s History month and several others.

Despite Beckner’s arguments, Hillsborough County will not designate June as LGBT Pride Awareness and History Month, nor will it designate June 12 as a day of remembrance for the Orlando shooting victims.

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