Tuesday, August 19, 2014

West Palm Beach approves same-sex benefit requirements for contractors

By Eliot Kleinberg - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

WEST PALM BEACH — It’s official. Contractors and people who do at least $50,000 in business with the city must offer equal family benefits to all employees, including those in same-sex relationships.

The city commission Monday voted 5-0, becoming the first public employer in Palm Beach County to impose the rule.

The rule covers businesses with five or more employees. Exceptions: companies that provide no benefits to employees’ spouses or dependents; government entities, contracts for sale or lease of property, emergency contracts, and provisions that would violate grant requirements or federal or state laws or rules.

The city also could waive compliance if it gets only one bidder, or determines no bidders can comply with the domestic partners rule, or decides at a public meeting that imposing the requirement would result in the city not getting the best value.

The commission had voted 3-2 on the first reading, on Aug. 4, with commissioners Kimberly Mitchell and Shanon Materio opposed. Both had said they supported the rule in principle. Mitchell worried about the idea of the city demanding something. She said she’d rather reward businesses by giving credit in bid considerations to those who provide the benefits. She also worried about imposing rules on local offices of national companies.

Mayor Jeri Muoio said had said a survey of the companies that do business with the city found that “there would be little effect” because nearly all businesses already meet, or are exempt from, the rule. Materio had wanted to study that survey .

“The more elected officials learn about the benefits of encouraging city contractors to provide equal benefits to the families of their their lesbian and gay employees, the more they understand the importance of treating everyone fairly,” said Rand Hoch, president and founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.

The local non-profit organization has pushed numerous local public employers to enact more than 75 laws and policies providing equal benefits for employees in nontraditional families.

Similar ordinances have been approved by the Broward County Commission; the Broward towns of Hallandale Beach, Oakland Park and Wilton Manors; and the cities of Key West and Miami Beach.

http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/local/west-palm-beach-approves-same-sex-benefit-requirem/ng5Rk/
 

PBCHRC - President's Message - August 19, 2014

What an incredible month this has been.

On August 5, Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Diana Lewis ruled that Florida's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, making her the fourth judge in Florida to reach this conclusion. (Last month, prior to the hearing on this case, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance endorsed her bid for re-election to the Circuit Court.)

Earlier that day, the Boynton Beach City Commission voted unanimously on PBCHRC's request for it to have staff look into implementing domestic partnership benefits. Staff is expected to report back to the City Commission by September 16, 2014.

On August 18, the West Palm Beach City Commission unanimously approved an equal benefits ordinance 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.

Mayor Jeri Muoio introduced the ordinance, which itself was based on a request PBCHRC first made to then-Mayor Lois Frankel back in 2007. The ordinance passed first reading on August 4 with Commissioners Keith James, Sylvia Moffett and Ike Robinson voting in favor of Mayor Muoio's proposal. Commissioners Kimberly Mitchell and Shanon Materio spoke out - and voted against - the ordinance.  However, when the equal benefits ordinance came up for final approval, the vote to approve it was unanimous.

The August 26 primary elections are less than a week away.  PBCHRC and the PBCHRC Voters Alliance (PBCHRCVA) hope that our successes continue in the primary elections - and beyond.

Throughout the summer, the Voters Alliance has been engaged in voter identification, early voting and absentee ballot campaigns. We are in the process of finalizing our get-out-the-vote campaign. Throughout our 26 year history, these efforts have resulted in record turnout by Palm Beach County's LGBT voters and their allies. We hope to repeat this success in 2014.

The Voters Alliance endorses candidates who support LGBT initiatives and privacy rights, based, in part, on:

*   How a candidate has voted on LGBT issues, and
*   How a candidate has supported the Palm Beach County LGBT community.

The candidates on the August 26 ballots that have been endorsed by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance include:
 
*   U.S. Congressman (Dist. 20) - Alcee Hastings
*   U.S. Congressman (Dist. 21) - Ted Deutch
*   Governor - Nan Rich
*   Attorney General - George Sheldon
*   State Representative (Dist. 81) - Kevin Rader
*   Circuit Court Judge (Group 14) - Diana Lewis
*   Circuit Court Judge (Group 30) - Jaimie Goodman
*   County Commissioner (Dist. 6) - Melissa McKinlay
*   School Board Member (District) - Karen Brill
*   School Board Member (Dist. 4) - Justin Katz
*   School Board Member (Dist. 6) - Marcia Andrews
*   School Board Member (Dist..7) - Debra Robinson
*   Soil and Water Conservation District (Group 5) - Karl Dickey

Please note that not all of these candidates will appear on your ballot.

In addition, PBCHRCVA has endorsed the following candidates who will be on the November 4 ballot -  but not on the August 26 ballot:

*   U.S. Congressman (Dist. 18) - Patrick Murphy
*   U.S. Congresswoman (Dist. 22) - Lois Frankel
*   Palm Beach County Port Commissioner - Peyton McArthur

Following the primary elections, PBCHRCVA will continue to screen, interview and endorse additional candidates for the November 4 general election. To keep track of our endorsements as they are updated, please check: www.pbchrc.org/endorsements.html.

On August 9, more than 200 PBCHRC supporters - including more than 40 public officials and candidates - mingled and partied at our fabulous biennial Summer Soirée. This year's event was held at Casa de Oro al Lago, the West Palm Beach home of our hosts Christopher Caneles and Steve Nesbitt. We are most thankful for Christopher and Steve's generosity and hospitality. PBCHRC also thanks our event underwriters and sponsors: Echo, Christina's Catering, Congressman Mark Foley, Scott Velozo and Stephen Mooney, Rae Franks, Esquire, P.A., Joseph Pubillones Interiors, Patrick Murphy for Congress, Sid Lesowitz and Peter Rogers, the Law Offices of W. Trent Steele, Wood Kinnard and Alberto Arias, Don Todorich of The Corcoran Group, and my firm, The Law and Mediation Offices of Rand Hoch, P.A.

Special thanks also go out to Scott Velozo for, once again, donating his time and graphic artistry to create the alluring event logo, invitations and advertising.
 
With the progress on marriage equality that is sweeping the nation, it now appears certain that marriage equality will reach Florida by the end of June 2016 at the latest. (Both U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and I have made this prediction!).
 
While there have been pro-marriage equality rulings from state court judges in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, no marriage licenses are being issued in Florida. Judges have imposed stays of their decisions pending review by the state's appellate courts. And Florida Attorney General Palm Bondi is fighting each and every case that she can to deny us equal marriage rights. She even is attempting to delay any progress in Florida by urging the state to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the matter (perhaps as late as June 2016). Quite hypocritical for one who has been a staunch supporter of states' rights. But Pam Bondi is a master of hypocrisy. The twice divorced Bondi, having failed at two marriages, speaks out in court and in the media on the sanctity of marriage. You can't have it both ways, Pam!
 
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.

Therefore, the most important race in Florida this year is the race for Attorney General. Incumbent Attorney General Pam Bondi must be defeated. Fortunately, Attorney General candidate (and longtime PBCHRC supporter) George Sheldon is the one who can defeat her. Please click here to take a moment to make as large a contribution as you can to - and to volunteer on - George's campaign.
 
While we anxiously await decisions other marriage equality cases in Florida, two of these need to be highlighted.

Palm Beach Gardens residents Sloan Grimsley and Joyce Albu, along with seven other Florida same-sex married couples, have sued the state in federal court for recognition of their out-of-state marriages. If they are successful - and if Pam Bondi does not appeal to the federal 11th Circuit - the State of Florida will be required to recognize out of state same-sex-marriages. Kudos go out to Sloan, Joyce and the other plaintiffs - as well as the ACLU of Florida - for bringing this lawsuit in federal court.

The issue of recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages is also in state court before the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach. Florida Atlantic University student Gildas Dousset, whose husband is a longtime Florida resident, was denied in-state tuition that is granted to opposite-sex married couples. If Gildas is successful, the State of Florida - or at least Palm Beach, Broward, St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River and Okeechobee counties - could be required to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. Kudos to Gildas, his husband and to his attorney George Castrataro for taking a stand.

Until all federal and state civil rights laws become LGBT-inclusive - and until marriage equality is extended throughout Florida - PBCHRC will remain vigilant in its 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.
 
Working to elect 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 City of Boynton Beach to amend their nondiscrimination policies to include "gender identity or expression" and to offer the full range of domestic partnership benefits; 

* The City of Riviera Beach to amend its nondiscrimination policies and ordinances to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression";

* Florida Atlantic University to amend its anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy to include "gender identity or expression" and to eliminate the discriminatory provisions in the school's domestic partnership health insurance policy;

* 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, later this year, PBCHRC Vice Chair Jess Blackman, Secretary Rae Franks and Litigation Chair Trent Steele will be participating in Lavender Law, the National LGBT Bar Association Conference in New York. While there, Trent will also be participating in the Family Law Institute. In addition, I will be participating in the 2014 Out & Equal Workplace Summit in San Francisco. These conferences bring together the best and brightest legals minds in the country, and PBCHRC is proud to continue its relationship these incredible legal organizations.
 
Finally, PBCHRC welcomes Boca Raton attorney Reagan South to its Board of Directors. While in law school she competed at the National UCLA Sexual Orientation Competition, arguing against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on behalf of a lesbian naval officer who was dishonorably discharged as a result of her sexual orientation.  Reagan also served as the Vice President of Lambda United, which served as an activist and support group for LGBT students and their allies.  Reagan is an active member of the Florida Bar, the Young Lawyers Section, and the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Network To read more about her - 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 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

Friday, July 25, 2014

PBCHRC VOTERS ALLIANCE ENDORSEMENTS (updated 8/29/14)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

PBCHRC Update - July 2014

MESSAGE FROM RAND HOCH, PRESIDENT & FOUNDER

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.

Working to elect LGBT-supportive public officials has resulted in the enactment of more than 65 local laws and policies which now provide Palm Beach County’s LGBT residents and visitors with both equal protection and equal family benefits.

Thanks to the voter identification, early voting, absentee ballot and get-out-the-vote campaigns conducted this winter by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance, members of Palm Beach County’s LGBT community – and our allies – turned out in record numbers for the municipal elections held this year. We hope to repeat this success in conjunction with the upcoming primary and general elections.

 The Voters Alliance endorses candidates who support LGBT initiatives and privacy rights, based, in part, on:
  • How a candidate has voted on LGBT issues.
  • How a candidate has supported the Palm Beach County LGBT community.

The Voters Alliance is currently midway through our endorsement process for the August 26 primary election. To date, we have made the following endorsements:
  • 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
  • Florida State Representative (Dist. 81) - Kevin Rader
  • County Commissioner (Dist. 2) - Paulette Burdick
  • Circuit Court Judge - Jaimie Goodman
  • Palm Beach County School Board Member (Dist. 3) - Karen Brill
  • Palm Beach County School Board Member (Dist. 6) - Marcia Andrews
  • Palm Beach County School Board Member (Dist..7) - Debra Robinson
  • Palm Beach County Port Commissioner (Group 5) - Peyton McArthur
We continue to screen, interview and endorse additional candidates for both the August 26 primary election and the November 4 general election. To keep track of our endorsements as they are updated, please check our Endorsements page.

Additionally, PBCHRC supporters will have the opportunity to meet candidates seeking state and local office, as well as other LGBT-supportive public officials, at our biennial Summer Soirée, which will be held on August 9, 2014, at the West Palm Beach home of Christopher Caneles and Steve Nesbitt. To find more information, to help sponsor and/or to purchase tickets, please check our Events page.

With the progress on marriage equality that is sweeping the nation, it now appears that marriage equality will reach Florida eventually.

Palm Beach Gardens residents Sloan Grimsley and Joyce Albu, along with seven other Florida same-sex married couples, have sued the state in federal court for recognition of their out-of-state marriages. Kudos go out to Sloan, Joyce and the other plaintiffs — as well as the ACLU of Florida — for bringing this lawsuit in federal court.

The issue of recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages is also in state court before the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach. Florida Atlantic University student Gildas Dousset, whose husband is a longtime Florida resident, was denied in-state tuition that is granted to opposite-sex married couples. If Gildas is successful, the State of Florida -- or at least Palm Beach, Broward, St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River and Okeechobee counties -- could be required to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. Kudos to Gildas and his husband for taking a stand -- and to his attorney George Castrataro.

Additionally, several other lawsuits seeking marriage equality have been filed in both state and federal courts in Florida, and we eagerly await their outcome.

However, 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 its efforts to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

PBCHRC was a proud sponsor of the documentary film “Before You Know It” at the Lake Worth Playhouse Stonzek Theatre in June. The movie chronicled the lives of three gay men as they addressed challenges facing them as gay seniors.

Thanks to the work of our LGBT colleagues at Florida Atlantic University, some progress continues to be made on the implementation of a domestic partner health insurance stipend policy. The new policy may be found at www.fau.edu/hr/files/DPHIS_FAU.pdf. However, the current policy continues to exclude employees with working spouses. This discriminatory exclusion often results in higher out-of-pocket expenses for gay and lesbian couples, as the cost for maintaining separate health insurance policies for each spouse is generally higher than a single family policy.

The Council's current projects include persuading:
  • The City of Boca Raton to rescind Ordinance No. 5161;
  •  The City of Riviera Beach to amend its nondiscrimination policies and ordinances to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression.”
  • Florida Atlantic University to amend its anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy to include “gender identity or expression” and to eliminate the discriminatory provisions in the school’s domestic partnership health insurance policy.
  • 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 Board Member Hutch Floyd and I will be participating in November in the 2014 Out & Equal Workplace Summit in San Francisco. The following month, PBCHRC Vice Chair Jess Blackman, Secretary Rae Franks and Litigation Chair Trent Steele will be participating in Lavender Law, the National LGBT Bar Association Conference in New York. While in New York, Trent will also be participating in the Family Law
Institute.

These conferences bring together the best and brightest legals minds in the country, and PBCHRC is proud to continue its relationship these incredible legal organizations.

Finally, PBCHRC Treasurer Dan Hall and I were proud to represent the Council at President Obama’s LGBT Pride Month Reception at the White House on June 30. We were also pleased to attend a policy briefing on LGBT issues at the White House prior to the reception with the President and First Lady.

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 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

Monday, March 24, 2014

Florida's First Openly-Gay Judge Predicts Marriage Equality Will Be Legal by 2016

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2014/03/floridas_first_openly-_gay_jud.php



Welcome to blogs.browardpalmbeach.com

Florida's First Openly-Gay Judge Predicts Marriage Equality Will Be Legal by 2016







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The demonstration, which was spearheaded by Andy Amoroso, the first openly gay city commissioner in Palm Beach County, drew a crowd of over 100 people carrying signs and calling for Florida's legislature to legalize gay marriage in Florida.

"As a lawyer who closely follows this issue in federal courts across America," Hoch said during his speech, "I feel comfortable in predicting that before the end of June, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down all laws across the nation which prevent lesbians and gay men from marrying their partners."

Hoch, who practices law and mediates employment disputes, became Florida's first openly gay judge when he was appointed Judge of Compensation Claims in 1992 by then-Governor Lawton Chiles. He served until his term ended in 1996.

In 1988, Hoch founded the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, and has served as the group's president since 2006.

During his speech, Hoch also praised Palm Beach County citizens' pro marriage-equality stance.
"More than a quarter of a million people in Palm Beach County voted against enshrining anti-LGBT discrimination in our state constitution," he said. "Locally we had the votes to kill the marriage ban."

The rally, which was held at Lake Worth City Hall, was organized with the help of local advocates as well as political representatives who sponsored or endorsed the demonstration. Sen. Bill Nelson has endorsed the demonstration, as have Sens. Jeff Clemens and Patrick Murphy. Congressman Ted Deutsch is also among those who have endorsed the rally.

The demonstration offered poster boards for gay married couples to make signs showing where they got married and how much they ended up spending for their out-of-state weddings.

"On a financial level, people are spending millions of dollars to get married," Amoroso told New Times last week. "But because of Florida's laws, gay and lesbian couples are being forced to fly to other destinations to get married."

In his speech at the top of the City Hall steps, Hoch called a reversal of Florida's ban on gay marriage "inevitable."

"Sooner or later, the courts here in Florida will declare that the ban against lesbian and gay marriages is unconstitutional, as the ban violates both the equal protection clause and the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution."






Sunday, March 23, 2014

Join Us for the Gay Polo League Polotini Party in Weillington, Florida on Friday, April 4

The 5th Annual International Gay Polo Week will take place April 4, 5 and 6 in Wellington, Florida.  

Politini Party
 
The GPL Polotini Party
The GPL Polotini Party, hosted by Patricia Quick, will be an ultra-elegant cocktail party will take place Friday, April 4 at 7 p.m. p0olside at the Mallet Grille International Polo Club Palm Beach.

The setting is beyond spectacular. The entrance to International Polo Club Palm Beach is via a palm-lined drive that leads to the steps of the magnificent infinity pool at the Mallet Grille Patio surrounded by lush tropical landscaping and some of the most carefully manicured polo fields in the world.  The club was born out of a dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport. International Polo Club Palm Beach is considered the crown jewel of the sport of polo.

The GPL Polotini Party is certain to be a chic and memorable event. Look for substantial gourmet appetizers prepared by five-star chefs presented with the most creative attention to detail. In addition, admission includes valet parking and open bar.

Purchase your tickets today to ensure you and that your friends are included in what promises to be the party of the century.

For tickets to the GPL Polotini Party, click here.


Saturday, April 5, 2014
The 5th Annual International Gay Polo Tournament
Where: Grand Champions Polo Club - On the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road in Wellington

When: Saturday, April 5, 2014

Time:  Gates open at Noon. Polo Matches start at 1 p.m.
           
VIP Tables: seating for six center field, open bar, gourmet food, table-side service throughout the polo matches and VIP Valet Parking,
$1,000.

Individual VIP Tickets: $200

Tailgate Spaces: includes tent, six tickets and one field-side parking space, $375.

General Admission: $25 (parking additional)

Parking:  $25 for valet parking, $10 for self-parking)

For tickets to the Tournament, click here.

Sunday, April 6, 2014
Sunday GPL Polo Brunch

Sunday GPL Polo Brunch at International Polo Club Pavilion: $125 per person.  For tickets to the Sunday Brunch, click here.

Travel Packages
For event travel packages including the match, events and hotels:
call (888) 999-4613 or click here.

About the Gay Polo League

GPL is a community that shares a love for adventure, fun and the challenging sport of polo. GPL is committed to providing members with an enjoyable, supportive and competitive experience.

GPL represents a wide range of ages, backgrounds and skill levels. GPL trains and competes in mainstream matches and events while sharing enthusiasm for the sport, to change perceptions about our community.

For more information about GPL, click here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Tailgates Going Fast for Gay Polo


One of the most anticipated highlights of the winter equestrian season, The 5th Annual International Gay Polo Week Presented by Cobble Court Interiors, will take place April 2-6, 2014 in Wellington FL. The tournament held on Saturday, April 5 is well known for its elaborate and fun tailgates. Every year tailgaters seek to best each other for creativity and execution. The result is one of the most colorful and entertaining outdoor events on the season's calendar.
At last year's Gay Polo Tournament, the tailgates sold to capacity. A sell-out is expected again this year, so those vying to win the coveted tailgate prize or want to secure their place at this year's event are encouraged to purchase soon.   

Judy Berens and Charlie the Cheetah. Photo by Christian Palmer
 At last year's tailgate event, The Panther Ridge tailgate took the prize for Best in Show. Complete with a live cheetah named Charlie, it was hard to beat the Wellington conservation center's "live" wildcat effort. Founded in 1999 by Judy Berens, Panther Ridge is a non-profit organization that provides haven for some of the world's most majestic and endangered big cats and works to involve people in conservation efforts.  

The Gay Polo Tournament was a great venue to get the word out about the facility and attendees of the event crowded around the popular tailgate to catch a glimpse of Charlie the Cheetah.

"A lot of people would walk by, then they'd stop in their tracks and they'd say, 'Oh my gosh, it's real!' laughed Berens. "Then, they'd want to come closer and ask questions. Charlie is a great spokesperson!"

The Best Dressed tailgate, masterminded by Jed Pearsall, went to Pan Am, a 1960s take on airline travel and a brilliantly art-directed effort that included attendees dressed in uniforms of flight crew, flight attendants, ground crew and 1960s travelers. The impressive Pan Am tailgate was a crowd favorite and a popular spot field-side.
Pan Am Tailgate. Photo by Christian Palmer
"The inspiration for this was easy," said Pearsall. "When my partner Bill and I think of polo, we think of glamour, excitement, tradition and adventure. Pan Am, whether you remember it from real life or experienced it from the TV show, seems to touch on all those things. But more importantly, it gave us ideas for a lot of great props!"

Karen McGovern and friends created a tailgate inspired by William Shakespeare's, A Midsummer Night's Dream. The floral-clad, forest-inspired theme was complete with costumes and body makeup. But it was their gastronomical offerings that earned the tailgate the prize for Best Cuisine.
RBC Wealth Management. Photo by Christian Palmer.
"It was forest-y crazy finger food," said Karen McGovern, who helped to orchestrate the ambitious tailgate. "We had cheeses and a deep fried turkey. The most popular were fresh Florida strawberries that were just huge."
The Most Enthusiastic Theme was awarded to the Pride Center tailgate, a South Beach theme of silver and grey, styled with contemporary furniture.
"We love what we do and we love having a great time," said James Walker who is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Pride Center. "If we can do that and support the community all at once, we have a lot to be enthusiastic about. That venue is such a friendly and warm place. Everyone just loves it."
Tailgates are $375 and include a tent, six tickets and one field-side parking place. Don't miss out on your chance to show your creative side and compete in the ultimate tailgating experience. Purchase your tailgate today and join us for over-the-top fun!

About the Gay Polo League:
GPL is a community that shares a love for adventure, fun and the challenging sport of polo. GPL is committed to providing members with an enjoyable, supportive and competitive experience.

GPL represents a wide range of ages, backgrounds and skill levels. GPL trains and competes in mainstream matches and events while sharing enthusiasm for the sport, to change perceptions about our community.

For more information about GPL visit www.gaypolo.com.

The 5th Annual International Gay Polo Week Presented by Cobble Court Interior Fast Facts: 
Friday, April 4: GPL Polotini Party, hosted by Patricia Quick, Poolside at the Mallet Grille International Polo Club Palm Beach

Saturday, April 5: International Gay Polo Tournament at Grand Champions Polo Club

Sunday, April 6: GPL Polo Brunch at International Polo Club Palm Beach

The 5th Annual International Gay Polo Tournament
Where: Grand Champions Polo Club
On the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road in Wellington, FL

When: Saturday, April 5, 2014

Time: Polo Matches start at 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
          Gates open at noon

Tickets for Friday, Saturday and Sunday events, call (561) 753-3389 or  click here

Friday Night GPL Polotini Party at International Polo Club Poolside hosted by Patricia Quick: $100 per ticket-includes valet, substantial appetizers, open bar

Saturday The 5th Annual International Gay Polo Tournament Options:

VIP Tables: $1,000 includes seating for six center field, open bar, gourmet food,
table side service throughout the polo matches and VIP Valet Parking

Individual VIP Tickets: $200

Tailgate Price: $375, includes tent, six tickets and one field-side parking place

Valet Parking: $25

General Admission: $25 (parking additional)

General Admission Parking: $10

Sunday GPL Polo Brunch at International Polo Club Pavilion: $125 per person