7-0 vote repeals 2005 policy banning county from recognizing gay pride, related events

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, (786) 363-2737, media@aclufl.org

TAMPA - Today, the Hillsborough County Commission voted unanimously to repeal a 2005 ordinance that prevented the county from formally recognizing events organized to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida supported the proposal, offered by Commissioner Kevin Beckner, which repealed the ordinance and allowed LGBT events to be treated the same as any other events in the county.

The following statement on today’s vote may be attributed to ACLU of Florida LGBT Staff Attorney Daniel Tilley:

“We applaud the Hillsborough County Commission for voting to end the disgraceful ban on recognizing LGBT-pride events in the county. This ban was an embarrassment to Hillsborough County, and although it is remarkable that such a ban could exist anywhere in the United States in the year 2013, a step forward is a step forward. As the Commission’s unanimous vote confirms, this has nothing to do with so-called ‘special rights’ but instead has everything to do with basic fairness. We thank the Commission for its common-sense vote, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Commission on furthering fair treatment to LGBT individuals in Hillsborough County through the creation of a domestic-partner registry.”

ACLU of Florida Mid-Florida Regional Director Joyce Hamilton Henry attended the meeting and spoke during the public comment period. The following is a portion of a statement which she delivered to the commissioners before the meeting:

“The word ‘home’ means a place where you are welcomed; where you are treated with kindness and dignity; where you are made to feel like you belong just as much as anyone else. The ability to call Hillsborough County ‘home’ is something which this body denied our LGBT brothers, sisters, friends, colleagues and neighbors 8 years ago.


“With the proposal before you today, you have the opportunity to finally tell those people that this county sees them, acknowledges their contributions, and welcomes them as an equal part of our thriving and diverse community. You can tell them that they do, in fact, have a home here in Hillsborough County.”