Monday, March 28, 2016

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio places travel ban on city-funded trips to North Carolina

(West Palm Beach, Florida) -- In the wake of North Carolina's enactment of HB2, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio became the first mayor in Florida to place a travel ban on city-funded trips to North Carolina.

HB2, which was passed by North Carolina's Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed into law  by Gov. Pat McCrory last week, nullified local LGBT rights laws in North Carolina.  The law was enacted in response to an LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance in Charlotte, which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The Charlotte ordinance also allowed transgender people to use bathrooms which relate to their gender identity.

"For more than two decades, West Palm Beach has been in the forefront, protecting the civil rights and ensuring equality for the LGBT community," said Muoio. "Until North Carolina's  discriminatory law is amended or repealed, West Palm Beach taxpayers will not subsidize legally-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people."

Mayor Muoio took this action at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), a local civil rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.  Since 1990, PBCHRC has been responsible for the enactment of more than 100 local laws and policies which prohibit discrimination against the LGBT community.

"North Carolina's leaders have struck down local LGBT-inclusive discrimination ordinances and have prohibited the enactment of similar laws forever," said retired judge Rand Hoch, PBCHRC President and Founder.  "We commend Mayor Muoio for putting her strong beliefs against bigotry into action by prohibiting taxpayer dollars being used in North Carolina."

Numerous corporations including Apple, IBM, Facebook, Google and Wells Fargo have issued statements condemning the State of North Carolina for enacting HB2.

Last Friday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee imposed a similar ban on travel to North Carolina.

In 2015, Muoio was one of a handful of mayors who announced a similar travel ban to the state of Indiana, following the enactment of Indiana's passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

As the result of pressure placed on Indiana by civic leaders, businesses, and numerous other entities, the Indiana Legislature promptly amended the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,by specifying that the law could not be used as a legal defense to discriminate against patrons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"The focus in now on the North Carolina General Assembly," said Hoch.  "Until they repeal this clearly unconstitutional law, the LGBT and allied communities will we will keep the economic pressure on." 

Friday, March 25, 2016

PBCHRC President's Message - March 2016

March, 2016

Once again, LGBT voters in Palm Beach County turned out in force in the municipal elections (and the Presidential Primary) held earlier this month.
Congratulations to three longtime PBCHRC supporters from Lake Worth - Mayor Pam Triolo, City Commissioners Andy Amoroso and City Commissioner Scott Maxwell - who were re-elected in the March 15 election.  All three of these civil leaders have been outspoken in their support of LGBT rights and marriage equality.

Congratulations also go out to West Palm Beach City Commission Sylvia Moffett whi was also re-elected in a contested election on March 15.  (West Palm Beach City Commissioners Paula Ryan and Shanon Materio were re-elected without opposition.)  All three public officials have been outspoken advocates on LGBT issues and PBCHRC initiatives.

On March 15, voters also elected the fifth openly LGBT mayor in Palm Beach County history!

In Wellington, two PBCHRC supporters - John McGovern and Michael Napoleone - were elected to the Village Council without opposition.  Unfortunately, Wellington Mayor Bob Margolis and Village Councilman John Greene lost their re-election bids in a hotly contested election.  (Incoming Mayor Anne Gerwig who defeated Margolis, did vote in favor of the LGBT Civil Rights ordinance proposed by PBCHRC last year.)

In Riviera Beach, Tonya Davis Johnson garnered the most votes on March 15 in her race for a seat on the Riviera Beach City Council.  However, since she did not receive a majority of the votes cast, she must win again in the March 29 runoff election. 
There is another key runoff election being held on March 29 - for Mayor of Boynton Beach.  Longtime incumbent Mayor Jerry Taylor has been a thorn in PBCHRC's side since the mid-1990s when he first opposed a gay rights ordinance sought by PBCHRC.  More recently he has spoken out against domestic partnership benefits and he was the sole vote against enacting an LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance for his city.  
Fortunately, Taylor is being challenged by Steven Grant, who has been endorsed by the PBCHRC Voters Alliance. Grant is a strong supporter of LGBT rights who can defeat Taylor - if enough people turn out and vote. 

Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance (PBCHRCVA)  has 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. PBCHRCVA endorsements are made upon consideration of how candidates have voted on LGBT issues and how they have supported the Palm Beach County LGBT community.  (A complete list of 2016 endorsed candidates can be found at

Working to elect LGBT-supportive public officials has resulted in the enactment of the local laws and policies that now provide Palm Beach County's LGBT residents and visitors with equal rights, protections and benefits. 
Last year, elected officials in eight local municipalities - Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Haverhill, Lake Clarke Shores, Riviera Beach, Wellington  and West Palm Beach - voted to enact LGBT-inclusive civil rights laws and policies.  The Palm Beach County Commissioners, officials at the Port of Palm Beach, the School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida Atlantic University and the South Florida Water Management District also took steps last year to ensure the rights of LGBT people were protected.

Our successes have continued in 2016. 
  • In January, Lake Worth City Commissioners unanimously voted to (a) amend the city's Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, (b) amend the city's Merit Services policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression and (c) amend the city's Procurement Code to ensure equal opportunity based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.  
  • Later that month, the Town of Haverhill amended its Equal Employment Opportunity and Anti-Harassment Policies to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression."
  • In March, the Town of Lake Clarke Shores updated its Anti-Harassment Policy to specifically include "gender identity or expression" among the protected classes.
To date, local public employers that have enacted ordinances, resolutions,  collective bargaining agreements and policies prohibiting discrimination based on both "sexual orientation" and/or "gender identity or expression" for their employees include the City of Atlantis, the City of Belle Glade, the City of Pahokee, the City of Palm Beach Gardens, the City of South Bay, the Town of Haverhill, the Town of Hypoluxo, the Town of Juno Beach, the Town of Jupiter, the Town of Lake Clarke Shores, the Town of Lake Park, the Town of Manalapan, the Town of Palm Beach, the Town of Palm Beach Shores, the City of Riviera Beach, the Village of Royal Palm Beach, the Village of Tequesta, the School District of Palm Beach County, Palm Beach State College, Florida Atlantic University,  the Port of Palm Beach, the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, the Office of the Tax Collector, the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser, the Office of the Supervisor of Elections, the Office of the Public Defender, the Office of the State Attorney, the Palm Beach County Sheriffs' Office, the Office of the Clerk and Comptroller, Seacoast Utility Authority, the Solid Waste Authority, Palm Tran, the Palm Beach County Children's Services Council and the South Florida Water Management District.

At PBCHRC's request, the City of West Palm Beach added an LGBT web page to the city's website in February. The page presents information on the city's history of supporting the LGBT community, as well as contact information for the City's liaison to the LGBT community and the City of West Palm Beach Police Department's liaison to the LGBT community.  To access the new web page, go to:

Because of the overwhelming lack of support for LGBT rights in the Florida Legislature, LGBT people around the state must continue to work on the county and municipal level to enact laws providing equal rights and benefits for our community.

On the statewide level, 2016 was a horrible year for LGBT rights in Florida.
  • After trying for seven years to get a vote in the Florida legislature on an LGBT-inclusive civil rights act, Equality Florida succeeded in getting a committee to hear the bill. Unfortunately, the bill was defeated in early February.  So, while Florida has the third largest LGBT population of any state in the union (following California and New York), our state still lacks any statewide laws offering protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents regarding employment, housing and public accommodations. 
  • Later in the session, the Florida Legislature overwhelmingly passed the so-called "Pastor Protection Act" to shield clergy, churches, and religious organizations and their employees from civil action for refusing to perform same-sex marriages. Governor Rick Scott signed it into law on March 10.
In contrast, thanks to the efforts of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council over the past 28 years, more than 100 local laws and policies now provide Palm Beach County's LGBT residents (and visitors) with both equal protection and equal benefits.

April 2, 2016            Tailgate with PBCHRC at Gay Polo 
July 9, 2016             Summer Soirée in West Palm Beach  
January 14, 2017     Winter Fête in Wellington  

Please join Palm Beach County Human Rights Council supporters for open bar and snacks at our Tailgate Party at the International Gay Polo League Tournament between  1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Saturday, April 2 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington.  For tickets to the upcoming Gay Polo League events, go to:

Joseph Publiones, PBCHRC President Rand Hoch and Don Todorich

Once again, Joseph Pubillones Interiors and  REALTOR Don Todorich of the Corcoran Group are sponsoring our tailgate party.  Thanks Joseph and Donnie!
Thanks to our longtime supporters (with an assist from social media), the 2016 Winter Fête sold out shortly after we sent out our "Save the Date" cards.  We didn't have to send out a single invitation!  We are strictly limited to no more than 100 attendees at the July 9, 2016 Summer Soirée, which will be held at the fabulous new home of Jeffrey P. Ganek in West Palm Beach's South End. 
Jeff Ganek's new home - site of the PBCHRC's 2016 Summer Soirée

So if you are interested in attending PBCHRC's Summer Soirée, keep checking the PBCHRC events page ( to see when tickets become available so you won't miss out! 

PBCHRC Treasurer Dan Hall and 2015 Scholarship Recipient Ethan Kennedy 
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council is accepting applications for the Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Award -- a college scholarship available to graduating LGBT high school seniors from Palm Beach County. Each year we award this scholarship to local college bound high school seniors who have demonstrated an interest in advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community. 

PBCHRC's Social Justice Award is named after Daniel S. Hall, a local attorney who manages a financial counseling company.  Hall has served as the Treasurer of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council since 1990 and is its longest serving board member.  As a father of three, an activist, and a mentor of gay youth, Hall has always had a strong interest in education.

If you are - or know - a college-bound high school senior and are interested in applying for the scholarship, please go to to apply.  The deadline is midnight on April 6, 2016.
Diversity Honors recipient Rae Franks, Esquire.

Finally, PBCHRC congratulates our longtime Secretary and Board Member Rae Franks for being selected to receive a Diversity Honors Award from the Harvey Milk Foundation. Information concerning the May 13, 2016 Diversity Honors Awards ceremony will be sent out shortly.

Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has worked diligently on behalf of the LGBT community. Since there is virtually no chance of enacting either federal or statewide LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws in the immediate future, we will focus on work that remains to be done on the local level in 2016 - and beyond.

Rand Hoch,
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