Mayor: No room for bigotry in Tampa, society

Posted at 5:19 PM, Apr 05, 2016

Laws passed in Mississippi and North Carolina many feel are discriminatory toward the LGBT community have Mayor Bob Buckhorn extending an invitation.

The message comes in the form of a tweet directed at PayPal.

"Tampa is & always will be, proud of diverse community. We invite @paypal to open their global ops center here!" Buckhorn tweeted.

Buckhorn's social media invite came just minutes after two states passed legislation many feel discriminates toward member of the LGBT community. 


A law passed in North Carolina quickly resulted in PayPal officials withdrawing their plans to expand and build their global operations center in Charlotte. The expansion would have brought 400 jobs to the area.

The company says the state's passage of a new transgender law "violates the values and principals at the core of PayPal's mission and culture."

The recently passed Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act puts in place a statewide policy banning individuals from using public bathrooms that do not correspond to their biological sex.

"We have lots of accommodations in the bill for special circumstances," said Paul Stam of the North Carolina State House. "But we are trying to protect the reasonable expectations of 99 percent of our citizens who think they are going into a restroom or changing room or a locker room privately."

Buckhorn told ABC Action News he feels more big corporations will pull out of North Carolina.

"All of this stuff that discriminates against anybody for any reason is morally wrong and it represents a bygone era that was wrong then and it is certainly wrong now," Buckhorn said.


Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523 into law Tuesday which critics call the most sweeping anti-LGBT legislation in the U.S.

The law allows businesses and religious groups the right to deny the LGBT community certain services like counseling and adoption support.

It also protects those groups if they act out of "sincere religious or moral convictions."

The Republican governor released a statement explaining how the law does not strip anyone of their existing rights.

Bryant's statement reads:

"I am signing HB1523 into law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government or its political subdivisions, which would include counties, cities and institutions of higher learning.  This bill merely reinforces the rights which currently exist to the exercise of religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of this state under federal or state laws.  It does not attempt to challenge federal laws, even those which are in conflict with the Mississippi Constitution, as the Legislature recognizes the prominence of the federal law in such limited circumstances.

The legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived."

Buckhorn disagrees.

"I can't explain nor justify bigotry," Buckhorn added.


Mayor Buckhorn told ABC Action News he feels he has a moral obligation to insert himself in the public rhetoric on marriage equality and LGBT issues, especially these new laws.

"I think I need to tell the story of our city, which doesn't demonize people based on race, creed or color or worship or who you love," he said.

Buckhorn wants companies and potential future residents to know they can expect to be treated equally in Tampa.

"You can have your own individual religious beliefs, but if you are running a public corporation or if you are running something where public accommodations are involved in, whether it's a restaurant or hotel, you cannot discriminate," he added.

The mayor believes everyone's opinions and beliefs should be respected even if they are not shared.

He added his economic development department is following up with PayPal executives.