Monday, May 23, 2016

PBCHRC will be well-represented at the Democratic National Convention

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council will be well-represented at this summer's Democratic National Convention. 

Former PBCHRC Board Member Anne Gannon, a longtime ally of the LGBT community who currently serves as the Constitutional Tax Collector for Palm Beach County and former PBCHRC Vice President and Board Member Deidre Newton, an out woman who serves as the Democratic State Committeewoman for Palm Beach County, were elected to  serve as delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

                  Anne Gannon
PBCHRC Founder and President Rand Hoch, who served as Florida's first openly gay judge in the mid-1990s, was appointed by the Clinton campaign to serve on the Democratic Party's Platform Committee.
Former Congressman Barney Frank with Rand Hoch and Deidre Newton 

Gannon, Newton and Hoch are longtime supporters of Hillary Clinton. Last November, Clinton was endorsed by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance. 
Rand Hoch presents Hillary Clinton with 
 the PBCHRC Voters Alliance endorsement letter
Over the years, the Democratic Party has relied on PBCHRC activists to help shape the party's platform. 

In 2004, then-PBCHRC Vice President Deidre Newton was tapped by John Kerry's presidential campaign to serve on the Platform Committee. 

PBCHRC research assistant Michael Ira Thayer
was recruited by the Hillary Clinton campaign to serve on the Platform Committee in 2008.

Florida's 291 member delegation to the 2016 Democratic National Convention includes 246 delegate, 18 alternates and 9 members of each of the three standing committees: Platform Committee, Rules Committee and Credentials Committee.  

The Florida delegation includes 29 LGBT Democrats, including Florida Democratic Party First Vice Chair Alan Clendenin, who is running for Hillsborough County School Board and Broward County's Democratic State Committeeman Ken Evans.

The Democratic National Convention will be held in Philadelphia from July 25 to July 28.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Three students receive the 2016 Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards

Three local high school students --  Daniel Brassloff, Victor Espidol and Melanie Camejo Coffigny -- have been selected by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council to receive this year's Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Award 

Daniel Brassloff, a senior at Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, is founder and president of We the People, an equality club on Atlantic High School campus. Under Daniel's leadership, the organization created a website to help transgender people.  He also led the club's participation in the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Walk.  Daniel will be attending Babson College to study social entrepreneurship.

PBCHRC Treasurer Dan Hall and Daniel Brassloff
Victor Espidol, a senior at Boynton Beach Community High School, is the founder of the Boynton Beach High School Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and has been an active participant in the Compass LGBT Community Center's youth program. In 2014, Victor traveled to Tallahassee to urge legislators to defeat a bill that would have banned transgender individuals from using their self-identified genders bathroom. He is an advocate for comprehensive sexual education in the public schools and has spoken out about the need for more HIV prevention programs in Palm Beach County. Victor will be attending the University of Florida to study biology.

PBCHRC Treasuer Dan Hall and Victor Espidol

Melanie Camejo Coffigny, a senior at Lake Worth Community High School, is founder and president of her high school's GSA, which is one of the largest organizations at her school. In conjunction with 2016 PrideFest of the Palm Beaches, Melanie and other GSA members from throughout the county joined the parade contingent of policemen and women employed by the School District of Palm Beach County. Marching together, the group showed support for LGBTQ students. Melanie will be attending Duke University in the fall to study neuroscience. 

PBCHRC Board Member Carly Cass and Melanie Camejo Coffigny

The 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 always has had a strong interest in education. The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, awards the annual scholarship to local college-bound high school seniors who have demonstrated  an interest in advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community.

"These three students exemplify the new generation of LGBTQ activists, who will help bring our nation together on our issues, which, unfortunately, divide America today," said Hall. "The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council is proud to be able to help them further their educations in college."

PBCHRC Secretary Rae Franks Receives Diversity Honors Award From The Harvey Milk Foundation

West Palm Beach attorney and LGBT advocate Rae Franks, who has served on PBCHRC's Board of Directors for more than two decades, was presented with a Diversity Honors Award  by the Harvey Milk Foundation and The Pride Center at Equality Park at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on May 13, 2016

Diversity Honors spotlights those people who live their lives by advancing inclusiveness.  In addition to Rae, this year's honorees included Peter Clark, publisher of Hotspots Media Group; Enbar Cohen, City of Aventura Commissioner; Mark Denker, M.D. of Palm Berach Fertility Center; Robert Runcie, Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools; and Judge David Young. In addition, the annuak Milk Foundation Rosza Award will recognize eight year old Ryland Whittington, a transgender child whose family chronicled their son's transition from girl to boy on YouTube.
"It is such a privilege to host this annual event where we come together to honor men and women who, in their extraordinary lives remind us all of the diversity of the human spirit, the values that define us as not only as the South Florida community, but as a nation, and the potential that lives inside of all of us," said Stuart Milk, co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation and global human rights advocate. "We are thrilled to join together again with The Pride Center and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to present this ongoing celebration of those who exemplify the best examples of authenticity, leadership and courage in our community." 
Rae Franks was brought up in Cuba and came to the United States in 1962, so she has a personal interest in serving the Hispanic community and in protecting the rights of all minorities. She is a founding member of the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association and served on its Board of Directors for many years. Rae has also been a strong supporter of feminist issues and served as Treasurer of the both West Palm Beach Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Women's Political Caucus in Palm Beach County.
She became a board member of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council in 1991, through her friendship with then President Norman Aaron, who was one of the early out-and-proud LGBT seniors in South Florida. Rae became actively involved with the drafting of the City of West Palm Beach's Human Rights Ordinance, and its subsequent winning battle in the court and in the referendum challenge. For her work, in 1995 Rae was awarded the Legislative Advocacy Award by the Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society, along with former PBCHRC Vice President Joseph Fields, Esquire. This was one of the first citywide "human rights ordinances" in Florida which provided protection for gay and lesbians .
Rae is currently the Chair of the Palm Beach County Office of Equal Opportunity/Fair Housing Board, the Chair of the City of West Palm Beach Zoning Appeals Board, and Secretary of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.
Showing her commitment to service, Rae's law practice includes representation of domestic violence victims, assisting LGBT clients in navigating the currently changing landscape of property and probate rights, and in assisting non-English speaking clients through legal advocacy.   
In her role as candidate outreach coordinator for the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance, Rae has personally contacted and interviewed more than 250 candidates seeking office in Palm Beach County.