On June 5, Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe choked back tears and took a long pause to gather himself.
Eight years earlier, almost to the day, Sharpe had joined with five other colleagues to cement in place a policy that banned recognition of gay pride. That effort, led by fellow commissioner Ronda Storms, led to national and international coverage, cancelled conventions and round condemnation from all quarters.
Last week, Sharpe tearfully told the crowd that he was late to the commission meeting because he'd been at school with his son, who was being given the American Legion Award. His voice broke as he described telling his son, "When you make a mistake, you correct it yourself." After a long pause, he expressed his regret for having voted for the policy in the first place.
"We made a mistake, and I am just glad that I'm here today to be able to correct that mistake. ... I'm supporting the motion to repeal what we-- the vote that took place in 2005."