By WILLIAM MARCH | The Tampa Tribune
Published: February 18, 2011
Equality Florida, a gay rights group, is objecting to the appointment of Terry Kemple, a religious conservative political activist who opposes gay rights, to the county's Human Rights Board.
Nadine Smith, executive director of the organization, said in a news release that Kemple "stands in direct opposition to everything this board is supposed to represent," and "has consistently opposed equal protection under the law for gay people and has advocated against the freedoms of those who don't share his particular religious views."
The county commissioners named Kemple to the board in December after he ran unsuccessfully for the county school board.
He disputed Smith's assertion, calling it "strictly a matter of world view. Mine is distinctly different from Nadine Smith's world view. I'm not opposed to equal rights for homosexuals," he said. "I am opposed to special rights for anyone, especially based on their choice of sexual partners."
• Kemple's attempts to prevent formation of gay-straight student organizations in local schools. She said the groups are to prevent bullying and harassment of gay students, but he said they're intended to "intimidate Christians or students who don't share their beliefs."
• His leadership of a boycott of Pepsico, which she said was because the company offered equal benefits for gay employees, but he said was because the company had donated money to organizations "promoting gay marriage."
• A check box on his campaign fundraising forms she said asked donors to declare "they do not support equal rights for gay people." He said it asked them to declare that they were U.S. citizens, that the contribution did not come from the proceeds of alcohol or tobacco sales or from any organization that "works to promote the normalization of homosexual activity."
The board, according to the county's web site, "encourages equality among all people by reviewing complaints filed under Hillsborough County's Human Rights Ordinance."
The ordinance bans discrimination in housing, labor and public accommodations on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, sex, age, marital status or disability, but not sexual orientation.
Commissioner Kevin Beckner, the county's first openly gay commissioner, said Kemple and two other appointees were selected at the commissioners' Dec. 20 meeting from among 14 applicants, based on which applicants got the most votes.
Beckner said he and Commissioner Les Miller voted against Kemple, while Commissioners Victor Crist, Ken Hagan, Al Higginbotham, Sandy Murman and Mark Sharpe voted for him.
"I think there were other individuals who were more qualified and more committed to ensuring all citizens' rights are protected," Beckner said.
"There's no question he's clearly opposed to equal rights gay, lesbian, bixexual and transgendered people - he's been on the forefront of opposing any kind of non-discrimination policies."
Gay advocacy group Equality Florida objects to the Hillsborough County Commisison's appointment of Terry Kemple, shown here in August, to the county's Human Rights Board.