Sunday, October 5, 2014

Florida League of Women Voters recomments "No" on Amendment 3

Amendment 3, called the Florida Prospective Judicial Vacancies Amendment, is a somewhat confusing measure that would allow sitting governors to “prospectively” fill a judicial seat before a judge vacates it. The way the law currently works, a judicial seat may not be filled until a justice officially steps down, which usually happens at the end of the year, at the same time the term of a sitting governor who has not been re-elected may also be ending. This means that a governor about to leave office may not be able to appoint the new justices – that role would fall to the incoming governor. In 2018, there are three state Supreme Court justices who will be turning 70, and all three are considered to be “liberal” justices. Since Florida law requires Supreme Court justices to step down once they hit 70, the current law would allow whomever takes office as governor in 2019 to fill those spots. If  Amendment 3 passes, though, and if Gov. Rick Scott were to be re-elected in 2014, the new law would allow him to squeeze in three judicial appointments on his way out the door, before a new governor is inaugurated in 2019.

The League of Women Voters is urging voters to vote no on Amendment 3.

“[This is] a bizarre solution searching for a nonexistent problem,” former Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead said on the call. “The bizaare part of the solution lies in the language used by the proposers themselves. They have created a new category called “prospective appoingments,” and that in itself is bizarre. … There really is no ambiguity [in the current process.] Currently the governor may not fill an expected vacancy until the justice’s term expires. That is clear and unambuiguous [and] there has been no problem with that appointment process at all.”

http://blogs.orlandoweekly.com/bloggytown/league-women-voters-florida-announces-positions-2014-ballot-amendments/

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Palm Beach County (Florida) LGBT History Timeline (Updated 10/20/14)

1977 - The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners considered, but failed to approve,  an ordinance to  make it unlawful to discriminate in employment “for any reason, except where such reason is directly related to the job being applied for or being performed.”

1981 - The LGBT-inclusive Metropolitan Community Church of the Palm Beaches is founded.

1987 - Atlantic Coast Democratic Club becomes the second LGBT political organization to be  chartered by the Florida Democratic County.

1988 - The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) is founded to work towards ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
 
1988 - The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council issues its first political endorsements.

1989 - The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council begins an educational campaign on bias against gay men and lesbians in housing in Palm Beach County.

1989 - PBCHRC Founder Rand Hoch is elected to serve as Vice Chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee.

1990 - Palm Beach County amends it’s Fair Housing Ordinance to protect gay men, lesbians and bisexuals from discrimination in housing, financing for housing, and in public accommodations.   (The law is the oldest gay rights law currently in effect in Florida).

1990 - Palm Beach County becomes the first public employer in Florida to amend the County's Affirmative Action Plan to protect gay and lesbian County employees from discrimination in County hiring and employment.   
 
1990 - Palm Beach County Commissioners unanimously vote to appoint local gay rights activist Norm Aaron to serve on the Palm Beach County Fair Housing Board.  Aaron becomes the first of many openly LGBT public officials to serve in Palm Beach County since 1990.

1990 - PBCHRC Founder Rand Hoch becomes Chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee.

1990 - Palm Beach County Anti-Violence Project is established by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council to work with law enforcement and LGBT community to combat an increase in gay bashing in Palm Beach County.

1990 - West Palm Beach includes LGBT issues in its diversity training for law enforcement officers and other municipal employees

1990 - West Palm Beach City Commissioners appoint PBCHRC Founder Rand Hoch to serve on the West Palm Beach Employment Practices Review Commission.  His fellow commissioners elect him Chairman Pro Tempore.

1990 - LGBT activist Norm Aaron forms “Seniors and Sunshine” to support for LGBT Seniors in Palm Beach County.

1991 - The Palm Beach County Human Rights council plays an integral part in the successful "West Palm Beach '91" campaign to switch the city into a 'strong mayor' form of government.

1991 - The School Board of Palm Beach County rejects PBCHRC’s request to add sexual orientation to its list of categories protected from employment discrimination.

1991 - West Palm Beach becomes the first public employer in Florida to enact an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public employment.

1991 - The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council conducts a countywide survey on anti-LGBT crimes and bias.

1991 - An amendment sponsored by Senator Eleanor Weinstock (D-West Palm Beach) to include sexual orientation in Florida’s Hate Crimes Act is enacted into law

1991 - The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners appoints PBCHRC Founder Rand Hoch to serve on the Palm Beach County Ethics Steering Commission.

1991 - West Palm Beach reverses an initial denial by the Zoning Board of a license for The Backdoor Bookstore, a lesbian owned business geared to the LGBT community.  The short-lived bookstore becomes the unofficial LGBT community center in Palm Beach County.

1991 - The Palm Beach County Supervisor of Election designates The Backdoor Bookstore an official Continuous Voter Registration Site by.

1991 - The Southern Source, a “lesbian/gay vehicle for communication and information” published by Susan Harris is founded.

1991 - The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council presents awards to State Senator Eleanor Weinstock and West Palm Beach Police Chief Billy Riggs for their work in successfully combating violence against the LGBT Community.
       
1991 - The Palm Beach County Fair Housing Board begins testing on LGBT bias in housing.

1991 - PBCHRC Founder Rand Hoch addresses FBI Hate Crimes Training Conference of law enforcement officials from Florida and Alabama.

1991 - The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council establishes both a state and a federal political action committee.  The pro-LGBT PACS are the first in the nation to be headed by a lesbian, longtime lesbian activist Roz Rizzo.

1991 - West Palm Beach adopts a policy prohibiting the use of any public funds for organizations or facilities which discriminate on the basis of several protected classes, including sexual orientation.     

1991 - Boynton Beach adopts a policy prohibiting the use of any public funds for organizations or facilities which discriminate on the basis of several protected classes, including sexual orientation.

1991 - Riviera  Beach adopts a policy prohibiting the use of any public funds for organizations or facilities which discriminate on the basis of several protected classes, including sexual orientation.
  1992 - Governor Lawton Chiles appoints PBCHRC Founder Rand Hoch to serve as Florida’s first openly gay judge.

1992 - West Palm Beach becomes the first public employer in Florida to provide domestic partnership benefits for municipal employees.

1992 - Chuck Wolfe, an openly gay man working in the administration of Florida Governor Lawton Chiles, is appointed Director of Florida Relief Center, which is headquartered at the Palm Beach County Fairgrounds.

1992 - Compass, the successor of the Stop AIDS Project, is formed as the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of the Palm Beaches.
   
1992 - The first PrideFest is held at the Armory Center in West Palm Beach.

1992 -  PBCHRC Founder Rand Hoch is selected as an LGBT "Avant Guardian" by The Advocate, the nation's largest gay and lesbian news magazine.

1994 - West Palm Beach enacts an Equal Opportunity Ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in private and public employment, housing and public accommodation.

1994 - West Palm Beach Mayor Nancy Graham head’s the “NO on 1!" campaign, urging voters not to repeal the City’s recently enacted Equal Opportunity Ordinance.

1994 - Chuck Wolfe, an openly gay man, serves as Director of Operations for Chiles/McKay reelection campaign.
   
1995 - Voters in West Palm Beach overwhelmingly reject the effort to repeal the Equal Opportunity Ordinance by a margin of 56% to 43%.  West Palm Beach becomes the first jurisdiction in Florida to withstand a repeal effort by popular vote.

1995 - The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County presents its Legislative Advocacy Award to PBCHRC Secretary Rae Frank and Vice President Fields.

1995 - By a four-to-three vote, the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners reject PBCHRC’s request to include sexual orientation as a protected class in the Palm Beach County Equal Employment Ordinance, which the County Commission enacts – without sexual orientation – by a five-to-two vote.

1996 - Lake Park enacts an Equal Opportunity/Minority and Women Business Enterprises Ordinance which prohibits discrimination based on  sexual orientation.

1996 - PBCHRC President Norm Aaron becomes the oldest openly gay American to carry the Olympic Torch.

1996 - Chuck Wolfe, an openly gay man working in the administration of Florida Governor Lawton Chiles, is appointed Executive Director of the Miami Financial Emergency Oversight Board.

1996 - The Atlantic Coast Democratic Club is reorganized as the Lawton Chiles Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Democratic Club.

1997 - Chuck Wolfe, an openly gay man is appointed Director of External Affairs by Governor Lawton Chiles.

1997 - Chuck Wolfe, an openly gay man is appointed Director of Florida Tobacco Control Pilot Program (a/k/a The Truth Campaign)

1998 - Working with PBCHRC, the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office establishes a Hate Crimes Task Force with a toll free number for reporting hate crimes.

1998 - PBCHRC provides Anti-Hate cards to the Civil Rights Unit of the Office of the State Attorney in conjunction wit the Hate Crimes Task Force.

1998 - Deidre Newton, an open lesbian, is elected to the Palm Beach County Soil and Water Conservation District Board.

1999 - Atlantis updates its Police Department’s Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace Policy to include sexual orientation.

2000 - Metropolitan Community Church of the Palm Beaches moves into new location in Palm Beach Gardens.

2000 - John L. Stryker, part-time Palm Beacher and philanthropist, establishes the Arcus Foundation, the world's leading foundation funding organizations worldwide working to advance LGBT equality.

2001 - In recognition of a lifetime battling for civil rights for all, the Democratic Women's Club of Palm Beach County presents PBCHRC President Norm Aaron with its Humanitarian Award.

2002 - The Palm Beach County Sheriffs' Office offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2002 - The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners amends the County's Equal Employment Ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on marital status and sexual orientation.

2002-   Metropolitan Community Church of the Palm Beaches holds its first Rainbow Ball.
   
2002 - Compass holds its first Stonewall Ball.

2003 - West Palm Beach extends lifetime health insurance benefits to the surviving domestic partner of any city employee killed in the line of duty

2003 - The Palm Beach County School Board adopts a policy to protect students against harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation.

2003 - Lake Worth amends the city's Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

2003 - Voices of Pride, a local gay men’s chorus, is founded.

2003- A gay couple settles their housing discrimination lawsuit against a Boca Raton apartment complex for $75,000.

2003 - Michael Woods, an openly gay man and COMPASS Board Member, is recognized as Special Olympics New Coach of the Year by Special Olympics - Palm Beach County.

2003 - Chuck Wolfe, an openly gay man, becomes CEO and President of The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which has helped elect thousands of openly LGBT candidates to local, state and federal offices.

2004 - The Office of the Clerk and Comptroller offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2004 - The Office of the Supervisor of Elections becomes the first local public employer to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

2004 - The Port of Palm Beach offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2004 - Tom Gerrard, an openly gay man, is appointed to the Manalapan Town Commission.  (He was subsequently elected to the Town Commission in 2005 and 2007).

2004 - Lake Worth offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2004 -  John Herrick, an openly gay man, is elected Treasurer of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County.

2004 - Michael Woods, an openly gay man and COMPASS Board Member, is awarded the Dwyer Award for Excellence in Education by the Economic Council of Palm Beach County and the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County.

2004 - Tom Gerrard, an openly gay man who served on the Manalapan Architectural Commission, is appointed to the Town Commission. 

2004 - The Palm Beach County Property Appraiser offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2005 - West Palm Beach establishes a Domestic Partnership Registry.
   
2005 - The Pride Business Alliance is established.

2005 - Tom Gerrard, an openly gay man who had been appointed to the Manalapan Town Commission in 2004, is elected to the Town Commission. 

2005 - The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County presents the Community Service Award to PBCHRC Founder Rand Hoch.

2005 - Belle Glade amends its Equal Employment Opportunity Policy to include sexual orientation

2006 -    Belle Glade enacts s Special Event Permit Ordinance specifically prohibiting discrimination based on “sexual orientation or gender related grounds.”

2006 - Palm Beach County offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2006 - Matthew McWatters, an openly gay man, is elected to serve as Secretary of the Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee. 

2006 - The School District of Palm Beach County offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2006 - J.P. Sasser, who was first elected Mayor of Pahokee in 2000, comes out publically as a gay man.  Sasser served as Mayor from 2000 to 2008 and from 2010 to the present).

2006 - The Office of the Supervisor of Elections offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2006 - Betty James, an open lesbian, is appointed Mayor of Cloud Lake.  (James was subsequently elected Mayor in 2008 and served through 2011).

2006 - The Office of the Tax Collector revises its non-discrimination policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

2006 - The Office of the Tax Collector offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2006 - Palm Beach County establishes a Domestic Partnership Registry.

2006 - Delray Beach offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2006 - The Palm Beach County School Board adopts a Commercial Nondiscrimination Policy which prohibits the School District from doing business with firms which discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability, or any other form of unlawful discrimination.

2006 - The Board of Trustees of Florida Atlantic University trustees adopts an Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Regulation covering all classes protected by law.  (Gay men and lesbians at FAU's Palm Beach and Broward campuses would be covered under the regulation because such discrimination is prohibited by county ordinances.)

2006 -  West Palm Beach extends health insurance continuation coverage (COBRA) to city employees with domestic partners.

2006 - Palm Tran offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2006 - At the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Palm Beach County School Board Chairman Tom Lynch apologizes for referring to the LGBT community as a  “protected species” at a School Board meeting.

2006 - Tom Lynch decides not to seek re-election to the School Board.

2006 - Mark Foley, who represented Palm Beach County in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2005 through 2011 resigns from Congress after allegations surfaced that he was gay and had sent suggestive emails and instant to Congressional pages,

2007-  West Palm Beach amends its Equal Opportunity Ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression  in private and public employment, housing and public accommodation.

2007 - Lake Worth amends the city's Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

2007, Kerry Gallagher, an open lesbian, is elected Chairman of the Board of The Lord's Place, a nonprofit organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness in Palm Beach County.

2007 - Jupiter offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2007 -  Deidre Newton, an open lesbian and PBCHRC Vice Chair, is appointed to the Florida Financial Literacy Council by Alex Sink, Florida's Chief Financial Officer.

2007 - Juno Beach revises its non-discrimination and harassment awareness policies to include sexual orientation. 

2007 - Juno Beach revises the definition of "immediate family" with regard to bereavement leave to include an employee's "significant other."

2007 - Hypoluxo amends its non-discrimination policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

2007 - At the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, then-state senator Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) and then-state representative Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton) introduced bills during the 2007 Florida legislative session to add sexual orientation as a protected class in the Florida Civil Rights Act and the Florida Fair Housing Act. Neither bill was received a public hearing.

2007 - The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office amends it's nondiscrimination policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and marital status.

2007 - The Health Care District of Palm Beach County offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2007 - The Solid Waste Authority updates its nondiscrimination policies in early 2007 to include sexual orientation

2007 - The Solid Waste Authority offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.
                               
2007 - Palm Beach County amends its Equal Employment Ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

2007 - Tequesta enacts comprehensive policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

2007 - Royal Palm Beach amends its Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and its Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

2007 - The Palm Beach County Bar Association adopts and LGBT inclusive anti-discrimination policy, becoming the first County bar association in Florida to do so.

2007 - At the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink becomes the first constitutional officer in Florida history to officially recognize our families by revising her office's sick leave policy to allow employees to opportunity to use sick leave to care for domestic partners.

2007 - Palm Beach Gardens City Council implements basic domestic partner benefits for city employees.

2007 - The Board of Trustees of Palm Beach Community College rejects PBCHRC’s request to provide domestic partnership benefits for college employees.

2007 - The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council launches a successful “Puppies, Not Partners” campaign after Palm Beach Community College offers its employees pet health insurance months after the college’s Board of Trustees voted against offering health insurance to employees’ domestic partners.

2008 - Palm Beach Community College offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2008 - At the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council then-State Senator (now Congressman) Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) and then-State Senator (now Florida CFO) Jeff Atwater ®-North Palm Beach) co-introduce legislation to amend the Florida Civil Rights Act and Florida Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.  The bill is passed by the Florida Senate Commerce Committee, with four Republicans and three Democrats voted to pass the bill, and with one Republican voting  against the bill).  This historic vote remains the only time in the history of the Florida Legislature that a civil rights bill including sexual orientation has ever passed a legislative committee.

2008 - The Palm Beach County School Board expands the definition of "family" in the School District's Leave of Absence policy to include employees' domestic partners and their children.

2008 - The Palm Beach County School Board includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression  as protected classes in a comprehensive policy protecting students against bullying and harassment.

2008 - Tequesta revises its collective bargaining agreements and its employee handbook to include domestic partners as members of employee's immediate family.

2008 - Tom Gerrard, an openly gay man is appointed to fill vacancy as Mayor of Manalapan. (Subsequently elected Mayor in 2009, he served through 2011).

2008 - Michael Ira Thayer, an openly gay man, is appointed to serve on the Platform Committee of the Democratic National Committee.

2008 - BLAST (Bi, Lesbian and Straight Together) Women of West Palm Beach is founded.

2008 - Kerry Gallagher, an open lesbian, is appointed to the Palm Beach County Homeless Advisory Board.

2008 - The Palm Beach County Office of Equal Opportunity rules that the School District has discriminated against employees with domestic partners by charging them higher health insurance premiums than married couples must pay.  (The School District subsequently settles the cases brought by two lesbian couples).

2008 - Kendall Rumsey, an openly gay man, is elected to the Lake Park Town Commission.

2009 - The Palm Beach County Children's Services Council offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2009 - Susan Stanton, a transsexual woman is hired to serve Lake Worth City Manager.

2009 - Seacoast Utility Authority offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2009 - The School District of Palm Beach County includes the children of employees' domestic partners as eligible dependents for health insurance coverage.

2010 - The Palm Beach County School Board revises all of the School District’s  nondiscrimination policies to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

2010 - Wellington plays host to the world's first international gay polo tournament.

2010 - Kendall Rumsey is appointed Vice Mayor of  Lake Park.

2010 - Michael Fowler, an openly gay man lesbian, was appointed Vice President of Information Management at NextEra (Florida Power and Light).

2010 - Deidre Newton, an open lesbian, is elected to serve as Vice Chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee.

2011 - Wellington offers family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

2011 - Wellington amends their non-discrimination policies to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

2011 - The Boca Raton City Council unanimously votes to opt-out of the Palm Beach County Equal Employment Ordinance, leaving LGBT workers’ in Boca Raton with no legal recourse in cases of employment discrimination.

2011 - The Office of the State Attorney revises its Harassment Policy to include gender identity or expression.

2011 - The Office of the State Attorney revises its Family Medical Leave Policy to provide the same benefits to families based on domestic partnerships as are provided to families based on legally recognized marriages.

2011 - West Palm Beach revises its Family Medical Leave Policy to provide the same benefits to families based on domestic partnerships as are provided to families based on legally recognized marriages.       

2011 - Openly gay businessman Andy Amoroso is elected to the Lake Worth City Commission.

2011 - The Office of the Public Defender revises its Family Medical Leave Policy to provide the same benefits to families based on domestic partnerships as are provided to families based on legally recognized marriages.

2011 - The Rusty Gordon Democratic Caucus is established.

2011 - Palm Beach County revises its Family Medical Leave Policy to provide the same benefits to families based on domestic partnerships as are provided to families based on legally recognized marriages.

2011 - The Board of Trustees of Florida Atlantic University adds sexual orientation to the school’s Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Regulation.

2012 - NextEra (Florida Power and Light) based in Juno Beach, implements domestic partner benefits for its employees.

2012 - Delray Beach revises its Family Medical Leave Policy to provide the same benefits to families based on domestic partnerships as are provided to families based on legally recognized marriages.

2012 - Palm Beach County amends its Nondiscrimination in Contracting Policy to include gender identity or expression.

2012 - The Palm Beach County School Board creates a 24 member School District Diversity and Equity Committee, which includes a representative appointed by PBCHRC and another appointed by COMPASS, Palm Beach County’s LGBT Community Center.

2012 - The West Palm Beach Housing Authority adds gender identity or expression to its nondiscrimination policy.

2012 - The Office of the Clerk and Comptroller revises its Family Medical Leave Policy to provide the same benefits to families based on domestic partnerships as are provided to families based on legally recognized marriages.

2012 - Michael Fowler, an openly gay man lesbian, was appointed to serve on Palm Beach County School District's Technical Advisory Council.

2012 - Florida Atlantic University's Student Government passes a resolution recommending that FAU's Board of Trustees include "gender identity or expression" in the university's Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Regulation.

2012 - Boca Raton refused to sign a contract with the Solid Waste Authority for a County grant to handle emergency response to hazardous materials for the sole reason that the contract required Boca Raton to agree to treat its employees equally without regard to sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.  The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners gives Boca Raton 60 days to either sign the contract as presented or forfeit more than $1.2 million in grants over a five year period..  (Boca Raton promptly signs the contract with the LGBT-inclusive language)
                             
2012- Palm Beach County School District Superintendent E. Wayne Gent and the Palm Beach County School Board jointly issue a proclamation declaring October 2012 as LGBT History Month.

2012 - Openly gay Christian recording artist Shawn Thomas is inducted into the GLBT Hall of Fame.

2013 - PBCHRC celebrate's its 25th Anniversary.

2013 - Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits implements a tax equity policy providing eligible employees with domestic partners a $500 annual stipend to offset the additional federal income taxes which assessed on employees whose domestic partners receive health insurance through their employers.

2013 - Palm Beach County's Constitutional Tax Collector Anne Gannon implements a tax equity policy providing eligible employees with domestic partners a $500 annual stipend to offset the additional federal income taxes which assessed on employees whose domestic partners receive health insurance through their employers.

2013 - The Town of South Palm Beach adds "sexual orientation" and "any other legally protected status" to the Town's nondiscrimination statement.

2013 - The Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority adds gender identity or expression to its nondiscrimination policy.

2013 - The Boca Raton Community Relations Board votes unanimously to recommend that the City Council to amend its enabling ordinance to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression".

2013 - The City of Delray Beach updates its policy against discrimination, harassment and bullying to include both "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression."    

2013 - The City of West Palm Beach enacts a tax equity reimbursement policy to reimburse municipal employees insuring their domestic partners for the full amount of the additional federal income taxes which are assessed on employees whose domestic partners receive health insurance through their employers.

2013 - In recognition of PBCHRC's 25th Anniversary, the Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach invites openly gay poet Richard Blanco to conduct a poetry reading in honor of our organization.

2013 - West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio appoints Robert Telford, a broadcast coordinator for the City's television station, as the Mayor's Liaison to the city's LGBT community.

2013 - Florida Atlantic University offers a domestic partnership stipend to university employees and allows employees to use sick leave to care for their domestic partners.

2013 - PBCHRC Board Member J.P. Sasser is appointed to the LGBT Task Force of the Area Agency on Aging.

2013 - PBCHRC Founder Rand Hoch is appointed to the Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion of The Florida Bar.

2013 - In recognition of PBCHRC's 25th Anniversary, The Arts Garage sponsors a special performance of William Randall Beard’s musical Beyond the Rainbow in honor of our organization.

2013 - The Palm Beach Town Council votes 4-1 to implement the full range of domestic partnership benefits for Town employees.

2013 -  Palm Beach County enacts a tax equity reimbursement policy to reimburse municipal employees insuring their domestic partners for the full amount of the additional federal income taxes which are assessed on employees whose domestic partners receive health insurance through their employers.

2013 - The City of Boca Raton amends its personnel rules and regulations to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

2013 - The City of Boca Raton extends the jurisdiction of the Community Relations Board to include the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

2013 - The City of Boca Raton extends the full range of domestic partnership benefits to its municipal employees. The benefits include health, dental and vision insurance, continuation of insurance coverage (identical to coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA), funeral leave, domestic violence leave, family sick leave and domestic partner leave (identical to coverage by the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA).

2013 - The City of Palm Beach Gardens offers full domestic partnership health insurance benefits to its municipal employees.

2013 - West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio issues a proclamation declaring November 19, 2013 as "Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Day".
 
2013 - The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council celebrates its 25th anniversary at The Four Seasons, Palm Beach. 

2014 -  The Clerk and Comptroller for Palm Beach County implements a tax equity reimbursement policy to reimburse employees insuring their domestic partners for the full amount of the additional federal income taxes which are assessed on employees whose domestic partners receive health insurance through their employers.

2014 - Palm Beach Gardens residents Sloan Grimsley and Joyce Albu, along with seven other married, same-sex couples, successfully sue the State of Florida in federal for recognition of their out-of-state marriages.  The couples were seek those public benefits and protections enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples.  The State of  Florida appealed the ruling.

2014 - Lake Worth establishes a Domestic Partnership Registry.

2014 - Lake Worth implements a tax equity reimbursement policy to reimburse employees insuring their domestic partners for the full amount of the additional federal income taxes which are assessed on employees whose domestic partners receive health insurance through their employers.

2014 -  Openly gay City Commissioner Andy Amoroso organizes a marriage rally at Lake Worth City Hall which draws over 100 marriage equality supporters.  

2014 -  PBCHRC President and Founder Rand Hoch addresses the American Bar Association conference on diversity issues.

2014 - President Obama invites PBCHRC President and Founder Rand Hoch and PBCHRC Treasurer Dan Hall to attend the LGBT Pride Month Reception at the White House.

2014 - Palm Beach County School Superintendent E. Wayne Gent implements an initiative placing gender studies contacts in every school to provide support for LGBT students.

2014 - Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Diana Lewis rules that Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, making her the fourth Florida judge to reach that conclusion.

2014 - The City of West Palm Beach enacts and Equal Benefits Ordinance requiring city contractors to provide the same family benefits to employees with domestic partners and same-sex spouses as they provided to employees whose marriages are recognized by the state of Florida.

2014 - The City of Boynton Beach amends its personnel policies to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

2014 - The City of Boynton Beach extends the full range of domestic partnership benefits to its municipal employees.

2014 - PBCHRC Vice Chair Jess Blackman and Litigation Chair Trent Steele were elected to the Board of Directors of the Florida Association of LGBT Lawyer and Allies.

2014 - The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners unanimously votes to establish a policy stating that the County shall not do business with, or appropriate funds to, any public or private organization which practices discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability or genetic information. 

2014 -  The Town of Lake Park updates its Equal Employment Policy to prohibit discrimination based on "gender identity or expression"

 2014 -  PBCHRC President and Founder Rand Hoch and Vice Chair Jess Blackman presented a seminar on discrimination at the “Out of the Closet and In Your Office” legal education conference sponsored by the Florida Association of LGBT Lawyer and Allies.
 

Boynton Beach Mayor Cites Dictionary's Definition of Marriage As Reason to Vote Against Gay Rights

Boynton Beach Mayor Cites Dictionary's Definition of Marriage As Reason to Vote Against Gay Rights

By Chris Joseph, Broward-Palm Beach New Times
Staff Writer
September 17, 2014

After receiving a report on workplace equality from the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council back in July, on Tuesday evening the Boynton Beach City Commission agreed to give employees with domestic partners or same-sex spouses benefits. Boynton Beach Mayor Jerry Taylor, however, gave the one dissenting vote, expressing that the way the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines marriage is not in accordance to gay marriage and, therefore, they should not be awarded the same benefits as those who are in straight marriages.

Still, the vote -- which ended in 4-1 -- means that those in domestic relationships will be offered the same family benefits currently offered to municipal employees whose marriages are recognized by the state.

Benefits include medical, dental, and life insurance, as well as giving the employees family sick leave, bereavement leave, and family-medical leave.

Last night's yay votes came from Vice Mayor Joe Casello, Commissioners David Merker, Mack McCray, and Michael Fitzpatrick with the one decanting vote coming from Mayor Taylor.
Taylor expressed his religious beliefs as reason for giving the dissenting vote, and railed against the proposals while referring to the definition of marriage from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

"Jerry Taylor needs to get a more current dictionary," President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Rand Hoch, said in response to Taylor's diatribe. "I Googled the Merriam-Webster dictionary's definition of marriage on the internet, and the online definition included 'the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage'. But then, I doubt Mayor Taylor's dictionary includes the words 'Googled', 'online' or even 'internet.'"

The report sent to Mayor Taylor and city commissioners in July was a comprehensive look on workplace equality. In addition to the benefits, the commissioners also directed the city attorney to draft an LGBT-inclusive Civil Rights Ordinance, which will be put under consideration later this year.

According to the report, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council detailed how the city could adopt "policies providing City employees with domestic partners the same family benefits as are provided to employees with spouses, including medical insurance, dental insurance, COBRA and health insurance continuation coverage, life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment insurance, family sick leave, bereavement leave, family-medical leave, the employee assistance plan and as any other family benefits offered by the City."

The report specifically asked the city to adopt an LGBT-inclusive Civil Rights Ordinance.
Hoch, Florida's first openly- gay judge, says that the city won't suffer any major financial distress over offering these benefits.

"Since Boynton Beach does not pay any portion of the insurance premium for employees' dependents, these benefits will only require a minimal impact on the City's budget," Hoch said in a press release in July.

Just last August, the Town Council of Palm Beach voted to extend benefits for domestic partnerships. The fight for those benefits to implemented was a six year battle waged by
attorney W. Trent Steele, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.

Despite push-back from some leaders, the projected cost for the Town of Palm Beach for domestic partnership benefits, which went into effect in January, will cost just $72,510.

Back in March, Hoch predicted that gay marriage would become legal in Florida by 2016. This could be yet another step towards seeing that prediction come to fruition.

"The Boynton Beach vice mayor and the city commissioners have taken a pro-family stance this evening by extending the same family benefits to all municipal employees," Hoch said via the press release following the commissioners' vote Tuesday night.


PBCHRC UPDATE - September 2014


MESSAGE FROM PBCHRC PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER RAND HOCH 
 
September 17, 2014

PBCHRC scored another set of victories last night in Boynton Beach!

By a margin of 4-1, the City Commission voted to (a) implement the full range of domestic partnership benefits for municipal employees, (b) amend the city's nondiscrimination policies to prohibit discrimination based on "gender identity or expression" and (c) direct the City attorney to draft an LGBT-inclusive Civil Rights Ordinance for consideration later this year. The actions were taken as the result of requests made by PBCHRC in mid-July. Mayor Jerry Taylor cast the "no" votes on all three proposals.

Throughout the summer, the PBCHRC Voters Alliance engaged in voter identification, early voting and absentee ballot campaigns.  While voter turnout throughout Palm Beach County was only 12%, as a result of our efforts, the turnout by Palm Beach County's LGBT voters and our allies was significantly stronger.

The following candidates endorsed by the PBCHRC Voters Alliance were successful in the August 26 Primary Election.:

  • U.S. Congressman (Dist. 20) - Alcee Hastings
  • U.S. Congressman (Dist. 21) - Ted Deutch
  • Attorney General - George Sheldon
  • State Representative (Dist. 81) - Kevin Rader
  • Circuit Court Judge (Group 30) - Jaimie Goodman
  • County Commissioner (Dist. 6) - Melissa McKinlay
  • School Board Member (District) - Karen Brill
  • School Board Member (Dist. 6) - Marcia Andrews
  • School Board Member (Dist..7) - Debra Robinson
The PBCHRC Voters Alliance continues to screen, interview and endorse additional candidates who will appear on the General Election ballot. We will keep you posted on our progress through the upcoming months. To keep track of our endorsements as they are updated, please click here

To date, the following endorsements have been made for the November 4 General Election:
Please note that not all of these candidates will appear on your ballot.

In addition, PBCHRCVA urges our supporters to vote YES on the following ballot initiatives:
To learn more about the campaigns, please click on the names

Following up on last month's successful campaign which resulted in the City of West Palm Beach enacting the County's first Equal Benefits Ordinance (EBO), PBCHRC is considering asking the County and the School Board to enact policies to require contractors to provide the same family benefits to employees' same-sex spouses and (both same- and opposite-sex) domestic partners as the contractors offer to employees' legally recognized (i.e., opposite-sex) spouses.

Over the past few months, there have been strong pro-marriage equality rulings from a federal judge and several state court judges in Florida.  Yet no marriage licenses are being issued. Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Palm Bondi continue to utilize delaying tactics in their attempts to deny us equal marriage rights.  These two obstructionists must be retired from public service. 

The PBCHRC Voters Alliance  strongly urges you to make sure that you get everyone you know who is registered to vote in Florida to participate in the upcoming General Election by voting for Charlie Crist for Governor and George Sheldon for Attorney General.


It is important to keep in mind that until the entire state of Florida recognizes same-sex marriages (or until Congress updates applicable federal laws), married gay and lesbian Florida residents will continue to be denied the Social Security and Veterans Affairs spousal benefits which are currently enjoyed by legally married gay men and lesbians living in states which recognize marriage equality.

Until all federal and state civil rights laws become LGBT-inclusive - and until marriage equality is extended throughout Florida - PBCHRC will remain vigilant in our efforts to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council's activists - all volunteers - have been screening candidates for public office, making endorsements, educating public officials and taking action with the sole purpose of changing laws and policies to provide equal treatment and equal benefits for the local LGBT community.

Our work in electing LGBT-supportive public officials has resulted in the enactment of more than 70 local laws and policies which now provide Palm Beach County's LGBT residents and visitors with both equal protection and equal family benefits.

The Council's current projects include persuading:
  • The City of Boca Raton to rescind Ordinance No. 5161;
  • The County Commission and the School Board of Palm Beach County to enact policies to require city contractors to provide the same family benefits to employees' same-sex spouses and (both same- and opposite-sex) domestic partners as the contractors offer to employees' legally recognized (i.e., opposite-sex) spouses.
  • The City of Riviera Beach to amend its nondiscrimination policies and ordinances to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression";
  • The Chief Judge of Florida's 15th Judicial Circuit in and for Palm Beach County to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in mandatory diversity training for judges and court personnel;
  • All public employers within Palm Beach County to: (a) adopt policies which specifically prohibit discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity and expression"; and (b) provide the same employment benefits to families based on domestic partnerships or out-of-state same-sex marriages as are provided to families based on legally recognized marriages.
  • All public employers within Palm Beach County offering domestic partners health insurance to provide annual payments to offset (or fully reimburse) the additional federal taxes assessed on the value of those payments.
In keeping with PBCHRC's commitment to promoting equality through education, advocacy, direct action, impact litigation and community outreach, PBCHRC Vice Chair Jess Blackman, Secretary Rae Franks and Litigation Chair Trent Steele participated in Lavender Law, the National LGBT Bar Association Conference.  (Trent also participated in the Family Law Institute).  Lavender Law brings together the best and brightest legals minds in the country and PBCHRC is proud to continue its relationship the National LGBT Bar Association.

Jess and Trent have also been elected to the Board of Directors of the newly formed Florida Association of LGBT Lawyer and Allies (FALLA).  In addition, Jess and I will be presenting a seminar on discrimination at "Out of the Closet and In Your Office" -- FALLA's education conference to be held in Fort Lauderdale next month.  PBCHRC is a conference sponsor.  For more information about the conference, click here.  

Finally, PBCHRC welcomes Meredith Ockman to our Board of Directors. In addition to her work for PBCHRC, Meredith serves as Vice President of Florida NOW, Vice President of Florida National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC), President of South Florida Women's Health Foundation of South Florida, and as the Southeast Regional Director of NOW.  As a national board member, she oversees NOW chapters in seen states. To read more about Meredith - and other members of PBCHRC's Board of Directors - click here.   

Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has worked diligently on behalf of the LGBT community. Rest assured, we will continue to do so in 2014--  and beyond.

Judge Rand Hoch (retired),
President and Founder

This paid electioneering communication, which is independent of any party, candidate or committee, is produced, sponsored and paid for by The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance.
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance. 
Post Office Box 267 
West Palm Beach, Florida 33402 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

PBCHRC VOTERS ALLIANCE ENDORSEMENTS (updated 10/6/14)




The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance endorses candidates who support LGBT initiatives and privacy rights. Endorsements of candidates are made upon consideration of:
  • How a candidate has voted on LGBT issues
  • How a candidate has supported the Palm Beach County LGBT Community



The following candidates have been endorsed by The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance for election or re-election:


         U.S. Congressman (Dist. 18) -Patrick Murphy
         U.S. Congressman (Dist. 20) - Alcee Hastings
         U.S. Congressman (Dist. 21) - Ted Deutch
         U.S. Congresswoman (Dist. 22) - Lois Frankel

         Governor - Charlie Crist
         Attorney General - George Sheldon

         Chief Financial Officer -
              CO-ENDORSEMENT - VOTE FOR EITHER CANDIDATE, NOT BOTH
               Jeff Atwater (Rep.) or William "Will" Rankin (Dem.)
  
       State Senator (Dist. 34) - Ellyn Bogdanoff

         State Representative (Dist. 82) - Mary Higgins        
         State Representative (Dist. 86) - Mark Pafford
         State Representative (Dist. 88) - Bobby Powell
         State Representative (Dist. 89) - Bill Hager

         School Board (Dist. 4) - Erica Whitfield

         County Commissioner (Dist.4)   
               CO-ENDORSEMENT - VOTE FOR EITHER CANDIDATE, NOT BOTH
               Steven Abrams (Rep.) or Andrew "Andy" O'Brien (Dem.)
          County Commissioner (Dist. 6) -Melissa McKinlay

          Port Commissioner (Group 5) - Peyton McArthur
          Soil & Water Conservation Board Member (Group 5) - Karl Dickey

 
On the ballot initiatives:
         Amendment 1 - Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative - YES
         Amendment 2 - Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative - YES
         Amendment 3 - Florida Prospective Judicial Vacancies - NO
         Countywide Question 1 - Children's Services Council Reauthorization  - YES
         Countywide Question 2 - Referendum to Continue an Ad Velorem  Levy for School
             Operational Needs  - YES

 
The following candidates endorsed by The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance were elected (or re-elected) in 2014:
          State Representative (Dist. 81) - Kevin Rader

          County Commissioner (Dist. 2) - Paulette Burdick

          School Board (Dist. 3) - Karen Brill
          School Board (Dist. 6) - Marcia Andrews
          School Board (Dist. 7) - Debra Robinson
         
          Circuit Court Judge - Jaimie Goodman


          Boca Raton Mayor - Susan Haynie
          Boca Raton City Council (Seat D) - Robert Weinroth

          Palm Beach Gardens City Council (Group 3) -  Eric Jablin

          Palm Beach Gardens City Council (Group 5) -  Marcie Tinsley

______________________________________________________
This paid electioneering communication, which is independent of any party, candidate or committee, is produced, sponsored and paid for by the The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance.

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance.
Post Office Box 267, West Palm Beach, Florida 33402
(561) 358-0105