Buckhorn not averse to Tampa hosting a gay-pride event



Bob Buckhorn has always been pro-gay rights, which is why it's not surprising that he'll be riding in a convertible at St. Pete Pride's Carnivale Parade this Saturday.

On the eve of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on two gay marriage cases, I asked the longtime Democrat if he has come to a decision on same-sex marriage, which he has never taken a formal stance on.

"What I have been asked historically is 'will I join Mayors for Equality?' (the actual name is Mayors for the Freedom to Marry), and I just don't join those national groups," he said on Monday morning. However, he didn't indicate any objections to the idea.

"I am far more libertarian the older I get and so for me, what people want to do is their own business. I'm fine," he added.

I asked the mayor back in January of 2012 about his reluctance to join his contemporaries like Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, Cory Booker in Newark and San Francisco's Ed Lee in signing a list in support of same-sex marriage. Similar to yesterday's answer, he said, "I tend to stay away from the larger coalitions," which is why he has never signed with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns, even though he has stated his support for gun regulations.

But Buckhorn is very enthused to be part of St. Pete Pride this weekend. He said choosing to participate was an easy decision.

"Not only is it the right thing to do, but the opportunity to really tell the world that the Bay Area ... appreciates everybody, and celebrates the value of everybody ... it is really just honoring the contributions of everybody, and for me to be able to be there and to tell that story is I think what mayors should do."

Three weeks ago the Hillsborough County Commission repealed its 8-year-old ban on gay-pride events by a unanimous 7-0 vote, but it wasn't smooth. Several commissioners expressed considerable angst about the idea that the county could ever host a gay-pride parade like the one happening this weekend in St. Pete and in other major U.S. cities around the world.

But when asked if he would have any problem with Tampa hosting such an event, the mayor said not at all. He said when he was a city councilman and when he worked under Mayor Sandy Freedman he marched in similar events.

"It was very small, I think," he said, referring to an event back in the 1990s. "Hopefully other elected officials will consider participating as well. I think it's an economic decision as well as the right thing to do, and for me it (attending St. Pete Pride) was a very simple answer. And it was 'yes.'"

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