Wednesday, September 17, 2014

PBCHRC UPDATE - September 2014

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 

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