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Tampa Area Feeling Effects Of Anti-Gay Policy


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Tampa Area Feeling Effects Of Anti-Gay Policy

by Fidel Ortega 365Gay.com Miami Bureau

Posted: August 9, 2005 12:01 am ET

(Tampa, Florida) Hillsborough County's decision to ban the county government from any acknowledgement of Gay Pride is beginning to hurt the community in its pocketbook. And, even though Tampa, the county seat, has a gay rights ordinance and distanced itself from the county position, it too is feeling the effects.

The Florida Library Association has passed a resolution that the association will not hold conferences, meetings of its Executive Board, committees, or other association groups in Hillsborough County until the anti-gay law is rescinded. '

"We are ethically committed to representing multiple points of view, and we firmly believe that representing all of the diverse expressions of life in our communities is our responsibility and is protected by the First Amendment," FLA president Nancy Pike wrote in a letter to the county commission.

At least one convention has been cancelled.

Michael Saripkin, co-owner of Sardis Mini Systems, a Mississippi-based company has cancelled plans for a convention in the county that would have attracted 2,000 people estimated to spend about $1 million.

Saripkin said he wrote to Commissioner Ronda Storms who sponsored the resolution to ban county Pride involvement but she never replied.

Storms pushed the ordinance after she became outraged in June over a Gay Pride display at a local library. (story) Following protests the county commission agreed to reconsider the ban but ended up re-endorsing it. (story)

Hotels in the tourism-based region say they are worried the county decision will hurt business this winter.

But, the state's largest LGBT civil rights organization is taking a different approach. Rather than recommending people boycott the area, Equality Florida is calling for people to be selective where they shop in Hillsborough Country.

The organization will launch its "buycott" on August 15.

Even the Dunedin Blue Jays are showing their displeasure with the county. The Jays, an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, sponsored a diversity night last year at Knology Field in conjunction with the Human Rights Campaign.

This year the farm team is taking the idea a step farther. Working with Equality Florida it will add a VIP reception and concert to highlight diversity in the workplace. It will take place before the Aug. 13 baseball game.

©365Gay.com 2005


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