Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council's activists -- all volunteers -- have interviewed hundreds of candidates for public office. We have done this to educate public officials, make endorsements and take action to elect people who will take steps to change laws and policies to provide equal treatment and equal benefits for the local LGBT community. As part of our efforts, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance (PBCHRCVA) has been working diligently for decades to identify more LGBT-supportive residents and get them registered to vote.
During 2016, there were more PBCHRC-supportive volunteers than ever before. They participated in our voter identification, early voting, vote-by-mail and get-out-the-vote campaigns. We also had a record number of our supporters volunteering for individual candidates than ever before. Additionally, an impressive cadre of LGBT-suportive voters worked with the countywide coordinated campaign to maximize voter turnout here.
As a result of these efforts -- and your participation -- the following candidates were elected (or re-elected) to office yesterday:
U.S. Congressman - Alcee Hastings
U.S. Congresswoman - Lois Frankel
U.S. Congressman- Ted Deutch
State Senator - Bobby Powell
State Senator - Jeff Clemens
State Representative - Matt Willhite
State Representative - Lori Berman
County Commissioner - Hal Valeche
County Commission - Dave Kerner
County Commissioner - Mary Lou Berger
Port of Palm Beach Commissioner - Jean L. Enright
School Board Member - Barbara McQuinn
Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation Board Member -Pat Edmonson
Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation Board Member- Rob Long
As a result of our successes in electing LGBT-supportive candidates, throughout Palm Beach County, it is illegal to discriminate against LGBT people with regard to employment, housing and public accommodation. In addition, there are now more than 110 local ordinances, resolutions, collective bargaining agreements and policies that provide Palm Beach County's LGBT residents and visitors equal rights, protections and benefits. A complete list can be found by clicking here and selecting the "Laws & Policies" tab.
In addition to mobilizing for the elections, PBCHRC has been working with both Palm Beach County and the City of West Palm Beach to enact ordinances to ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors (a discredited method of counseling based on the erroneous assumption that LGBT identities are mental disorders that can be cured through aversion treatment).
West Palm Beach City Hall
On November 7, the West Palm Beach City Commission voted unanimously to ban conversion therapy on minors within city limits.West Palm Beach joins California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, the District of Columbia, the cities of Cincinnati, Miami Beach, Seattle and Wilton Manors; and the Village of Bay Harbor Islands; all of which have enacted similar bans.
Thanks go out to West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio, and City Commissioners Sylvia Moffett, Cory Neering, Paula Ryan, Keith James and Shanon Materio for their unwavering support of the conversion therapy ban. Special thanks go out to PBCHRC Board Member Trent Steele, who is spearheading our conversion therapy ban initiative.
On the same night, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and the city commissioners officially thanked PBCHRC for the work we have done to help the city earn a perfect score on the 2016 Municipal Equality Index (MEI).
The MEI, a joint project of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the Equality Council, examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of the LGBTQ people who live and work there. Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership's public position on equality.
West Palm Beach is one of only 60 cities nationwide to have earned a perfect score this year.
PBCHRC thanks everyone who has served on the West Palm Beach City Commission since 1998 for helping to make this national recognition possible. Special thanks go out to Mayor Muoio's LGBT liaison Robert Telford, for his successful work with the MRI application process.
Finally, PBCHRC is excited to announce that on Saturday, January 14, 2017, PBCHRC will be holding our annual Winter Fête at the home of Mason Phelps and Ron Neal in Wellington.
Our goal is to have all of the event's expenses (e.g., catering, open bar, printing and postage, entertainment, valet service, etc.) underwritten in advance by our supporters. That way, every dollar raised from ticket sales will go directly to carrying out our mission. Therefore, we are seeking donors to become underwriters by contributing $1,000. Underwriters will receive two tickets to the Winter Fête, recognition in our media and printed materials, and an invitation to a fabulous pre-party which will be held at a private home in early January. As of Election Day, the following have signed up to help underwrite the event.
Mason Phelps and Ron Neal
Dan Berk and Javier Weicman
David Cohen and Paul Bernabeo
Christopher Caneles and Stephen Nesbitt
Tom Corrigan and Craig Mitchell
Jeffrey P. Ganek
Howard Grossman, M.D.
Daniel S. Hall
The Law and Mediation Offices of Rand Hoch, P.A.
County Commissioner-elect Dave Kerner
Wood Kinnard and Alberto Arias
Michael Judd and Ben Small
Sid Lesowitz and Peter Rogers
Joseph Pubillones Interiors
Trent Steele and Wayne Lewis
Stephen Mooney and Scott Velozo
Don Todorich - Corcoran Group R.E
To underwrite and/or purchase tickets to PBCHRC's 2017 Winter Fête, please click here. Checks made payable to "PBCHRC" may also be send to P.O. Box 267, West Palm Beach, Florida 33402.
Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has worked diligently on behalf of the LGBT community. With your support, we will continue to do so in the years to come - and we will keep you posted on our progress!
Judge Rand Hoch (retired),
President and Founder
P.S. If you are surprised that I did not mention the losses of Hillary Clinton and Patrick Murphy, that is because I am still in denial.