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Gay pride flap reaches City Council

A resident previews a complaint, saying the county directive violates a city ordinance.

By JANET ZINK, Times Staff Writer
Published July 1, 2005

TAMPA - His voice choking with emotion, Al Giraud on Thursday presented to the City Council the complaint he is filing with the city's Office of Human Rights, saying the removal of a gay-themed book display from the downtown library violates Tampa's human rights ordinance.

"It's been a tough couple of weeks for the gay and lesbian community in Hillsborough County," he said.

On June 15, the Hillsborough County Commission voted to prohibit the county government from acknowledging, promoting or participating in gay pride recognition and events. Kathy Castor cast the lone dissenting vote.

The display at the John F. Germany Library came down hours later. The library is on city property and leased by the county.

City Council members offered their sympathy to Giraud, but said there's little they can do but wait for his complaint to work its way through the city's process.

"We can't control what the County Commission does, but we surely can condemn it," said council member John Dingfelder.

Rose Ferlita, who announced this week that she'll run for the County Commission in 2006, said commissioners should focus their energy on issues like health care and transportation.

"Personal prejudice should be left aside," she said. "I do not agree with what the majority decided."

Giraud had to submit a new complaint this week because the original document, distributed to city officials last week, was not signed and notarized.

The new complaint, which he read to council members, says that the order from Tampa-Hillsborough County library director Joe Stines to remove the display violated the city code.

City Attorney David Smith said his office needs to see the new version of the complaint to determine whether it falls within the scope of the city's ordinance.

--Janet Zink can be reached at 813 226-3401 or jzink@sptimes.com

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