Hillsborough County may start process to ban LBGT discrimination

The political climate in Hillsborough County may be shifting.
 
County Commissioner Kevin Beckner wants to take advantage of it.
 
He’s proposing to amend a county ordinance that would ban discrimination against the gay, lesbian and transgender community.
 
Beckner, the first openly gay commissioner in the county's history, has support from the community. 
 
Carrie West owns a thriving business in Ybor City. He and his partner, Mark Bias, have been together for 36 years. West says he experienced discrimination very quickly after moving to the area. 
 
He and his partner went to look for an apartment in Hillsborough County and a manager told him, "we don't have homosexuals here. "
 
West applauds the shift happening that allowed Beckner to propose the rule change. 
 
"There is a dark stain in the history of Hillsborough County because of the actions this board has taken," Beckner said.
 
Right now Hillsborough County does not have a rule in place protecting the LGBT community from discrimination. 
 
Beckner believes that banning discrimination will create jobs by attracting companies with a more gay-friendly atmosphere. He adds that 90 percent of companies already ban this type of discrimination. 
 
"It's interesting when I talk to the business community. They kind of smile and politely shake their head in disbelief that government still has not caught up with the private sector," he said.
 
West says he has been asking for this political shift for the past seven years and has a message for Commissioners, "Go forward and bring progress to Hillsborough County."
 
Beckner’s proposal will be introduced at the county commission Wednesday that directs the county attorney to write an amendment.
 
His language will be reviewed by commissioners. 
 
The final step is a public hearing and vote. The process could take as little as six weeks.
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