After vigorously opposing the possibility of Terry Kemple being appointed to a new diversity advisory council several months ago, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner has now softened his stance.
Kemple, the well-known Christian conservative activist, should be allowed to have his application to join the council considered by the commission, Beckner says.
We applaud the gesture, but maintain our opposition to Kemple joining the diversity council. When the commission meets next month to consider appointing the council’s 22 members, Kemple, who is running for election to the Hillsborough County School Board, should be rejected.
His application drew Beckner’s scorn after it was revealed Kemple had sent a email to his supporters trashing the idea of the diversity council he was attempting to join.
The council, he wrote, is probably “code for some effort to forward the homosexual agenda.” He went on to say the council’s work was not the “important work” commissioners should be doing.
Shortly afterward, a national diversity council helping the county review the applications decided to pull Kemple from consideration. But a heated discussion among commissioners left the application in the air and effectively delayed the council’s formation. Beckner now says he’s willing to have Kemple’s membership considered so the council can be formed, with or without him. Kemple’s membership seems likely if the four commissioners who backed his application during an earlier meeting vote in his favor.
The council is Beckner’s idea. The commission’s first openly gay member, Beckner wants the county to become more inclusive. He envisions a diverse membership representing varying ethnicities, races, religions and sexual orientations.
Kemple is being considered as a person of European heritage. His strict religious beliefs should not automatically disqualify him. But his prejudice toward the council and homosexuals as expressed in that email should.
Giving him a county-sanctioned platform to express those views would be a mistake that could potentially undermine the diversity council’s mission.
Commissioners should reject his membership.