Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Year in Review -- and 2019 Too!

 

A look back at LGBTQ progress
 throughout Palm Beach County
over the past two years

DECEMBER 2020
  • The City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County file Joint Petition for Panel Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc in Otto v. City of Boca Raton, the case seeking to strike down their ordinances banning conversion therapy. 
  • The Cities of Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Lake Worth Beach, Riviera Beach, and West Palm Beach, Florida join the City of Miami's amicus brief in support of The City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County's Joint Petition for Panel Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc in Otto v. City of Boca Raton
  • West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James signs on to the Freedom for All Americans letter to Members of Congress urging them to enact comprehensive federal LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections. 
  • The City of West Palm Beach earns a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Municipal Equality Index. Only six other municipalities in Florida were awarded 100 points.

NOVEMBER 2020
  • A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reverses the District Court’s denial of plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction in Otto v. City of Boca Raton and remands the case to the District Court, thus allowing the therapists to, once again, practice their quackery on local children.
  • The City of South Bay adopts an LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights resolution.

OCTOBER 2020
  • The City of Riviera Beach enacts an LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights ordinance.
  • The Commissioners of the Port of Palm Beach unanimously vote to add "gender identity or expression" to the Port's Equal Opportunity Statement for all Port policies and contracts.
  • PBCHRC Board Member G. Joseph Garcia is named to the Board of Directors for the FSU Pride Alumni Network

SEPTEMBER 2020
  • The Towns of Haverhill and Juno Beach enact LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights ordinances.
  • The City of Palm Beach Gardens adopts a resolution denouncing hate crimes and discrimination against LGBTQ people.

AUGUST 2020
  • The Village of North Palm Beach enacts an LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights ordinance.
  • The City of West Palm Beach amends its Equal Opportunity Ordinance by extending protection from discrimination to employees working for small businesses (those with 5-14 employees).
  • PBCHRC Board Member Chauncey Graham is appointed to serve on the West Palm Beach Mayor's Task Force for Racial and Ethnic Equality and selected for Leadership Florida Connect 2021.

JULY 2020
  • PBCHRC Board Member Jasmin Lewis is named Victory Fund Empowerment Fellow.

JUNE 2020
  • The City of Westlake enacts an LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights ordinance.
  • G. Joseph Garcia is named Chair of PBCHRC Charitable Foundation.


MAY 2020
  • PBCHRC Board Member Jasmin Lewis elected delegate to Democratic National Convention.
  • The 2020 Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards are presented to graduating seniors Kyle Ahern and Theo Shusterman of the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, and to Endora Guillaume of Park Vista Community High School


APRIL 2020
  • The Boynton Beach City Commission unanimously votes to designate all single-occupancy restrooms in municipal properties "All Gender."
  • PBCHRC becomes a “trusted voice” for the County efforts regarding the 2020 U.S. Census.

MARCH 2020 
  • Ty Penserga, an openly gay man, was re-elected to the Boynton Beach City Commission and became the city's Vice Mayor.
  • Ray Caranci, an openly gay man, is elected to the Haverhill Town Council.

FEBRUARY 2020
  • Palm Beach County‘s Facilities Development & Operations Department designates single-occupancy restrooms in properties owned and leased by the County as “All Gender.”
  • PBCHRC Board Member Tamara Sager joins the Palm Beach County Multicultural Committee and Complete Count Committee.

JANUARY 2020
  • The City of West Palm Beach designates the single-occupancy restrooms in the City Hall Complex as "Gender Neutral."

NOVEMBER 2019
  • Lake Worth Beach City Commissioners unanimously adopt a resolution aimed at eliminating bullying and harassment in city facilities and at programs provided by the city.
  • Palm Beach County, the Cities of Delray Beach and West Palm Beach, the Village of Wellington sign on to the appellate brief filed by the City of Miami Beach in opposition to the decision of an Orange County circuit court judge that nullified that county’s LGBTQ-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance.

OCTOBER 2019
  • The PBCHRC Charitable Foundation makes a grant of $1,000 to the Palm Beach Gardens High School Gay-Straight Alliance.

AUGUST 2019
  • The PBCHRC Charitable Foundation makes an initial grant to the University of Virginia to pay for the meal plan for a gay student, a graduate of Forest Hill High School, for each semester until he graduates, provided he maintains a C average.

JULY 2019
  • The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners amends the definition of “sexual orientation" in the County’s Ordinance for Housing and Places of Public Accommodation from "male or female homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality, by preference or practice" to "heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or asexuality, whether actual or perceived."

JUNE 2019
  • PBCHRC establishes the PBCHRC Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization created to fund educational scholarships and other charitable endeavors.

MAY 2019
  • Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw establishes an LGBTQ Liaison Unit to promote a positive relationship between PBSO and the LGBTQ community.

APRIL 2019
  • PBCHRC President Rand Hoch is appointed to serve on the Government Efficiency, Budget and Taxes Policy Committee of the transition team for West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James.
  • The City of West Palm Beach is ranked the second-best city in the country for LGBTQ-friendly retirees, according to SeniorAdvice.com.
  • The 2019 Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards are presented to graduating seniors Eric Burchill of Wellington High School and Kavyasree Chigurupati of A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts.

MARCH 2019
  • Ty Penserga, an openly gay man, is elected to serve as a Boynton Beach City Commissioner.

FEBRUARY 2019
  • The Lake Worth City Commission unanimously adopts a resolution urging state legislators from Palm Beach County to support the Florida Inclusive Workforce Act.
  • The West Palm Beach City Commission unanimously adopts a resolution urging state legislators from Palm Beach County to support the Florida Inclusive Workforce Act.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Amicus Briefs Filed In Support of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County's Joint Petition for En Banc Rehearing of Ruling on Conversion Therapy Bans

Twenty-five cities and counties from across the nation have joined in an amicus brief filed by the City of Miami in support of the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County's efforts to obtain a rehearing of a ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit regarding the legality of ordinances enacted ito ban conversion therapy for minors.

The appellate panel was expected to rule only on one narrow legal issue: Whether preliminary injunctions sought by two conversion therapy practitioers were properly denied by Judge Robin Rosenberg of the U.S. District Court for the Southenn District of Florida.

The therapists sought the preliminary injunctions hoping to continue practicing conversion therapy on children pending a full trial on broader issue of whether local goverments could legally enact conversion therapy bans. 

On November 20, 2020, the panel ruled 2-1 in favor of the therapists, directing Rosenberg to issue the preliminary injunctions prohibiting Boca Raton and Palm Beach County from enforcing their ordinances. However, the panel also ruled the ordinances were unconstitutional, based on First Amendment grounds. 

"Two recently appointed appellate court judges ignored legal precedent, as well as extensive evidence that conversion therapy causes harm to LGBTQ children,” said Rand Hoch, PBCHRC's President and Founder. "As a result of this erroneous ruling, LGBTQ youth in Florida once again can be subjected to the psychological abuse caused by conversion therapy."

PBCHRC is Florida’s oldest, independent, non-partisan, political organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Over the years, PBCHRC has been responsible for the implementation of more than 150 laws and policies providing equal protections, rights, and benefits for the LGBTQ community.

Hoch, who served as Florida’s first openly LGBTQ judge, was one of the attorneys who drafted the ordinances.

In light of the adverse ruling, PBCHRC requested the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County to seek a rehearing by all twelve judges on the appellate court.

On Decemebr 11, 2020, the city and county filed a Joint Petition for Rehearing, taking the position that the panel's majority opinion ignored legal precedent, overlooked or misapprehended points of law, and deprived them of the their day in court to present additional evidence. 

In support of the petition, on December 18, 2020 the City of Miami filed an amicus brief. Jurisdictions which have signed on to the amicus brief include Alachua County, Florida; Bay Harbor Islands, Florida; Boynton Beach,Florida; Broward County, Florida; Covington, Kentucky; Cudahy, Wisconsin; Cutler Bay,Florida; Delray Beach, Florida; Duluth, Minnesota; East Lansing, Michigan; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Gainesville, Florida;; Greenacres, Florida; Kent, Ohio; Lake Worth Beach, Florida; Miami Beach, Florida; North Bay Village, Florida; North Miami, Florida; Oakland Park, Florida; Pima County, Arizona; Riviera Beach, Florida; St. Louis, Missouri; St. Paul, Minnesota; South Miami, Florida; Tallahassee, Florida; West Palm Beach, Florida; and Wilton Manors, Florida;

A second amicus brief in support of the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County was filed by the Florida Psychological Association and the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition, a third amicus brief was filed by the Trevor Project, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the American Association of Suicidology.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Palm Beach County, Boca Raton Challenge Appeals Court Ruling Overturning Conversion Therapy Bans

 By Jason Parsley, South Florida Gay News - December 11, 2020

Photo via Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County's Facebook.

Boca Raton and Palm Beach County filed a petition with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Friday asking the court to review a November ruling where a three-judge panel found their bans on conversion therapy for minors unconstitutional. 

It was uncertain if the county and city were going to challenge the ruling.

The petition is calling for an en banc review, which means all 12 judges would hear the case. The petition also states that the majority opinion overturning the bans “conflicts with circuit precedent” and its interpretation of “strict scrutiny” departs “from the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“The decision, possibly unintentionally, included language suggesting it constituted a final decision on the merits, even though the Court was merely reviewing the denial of a preliminary injunction; the Governments are entitled to their day in court to present additional evidence,” the petition reads.

According to Rand Hoch, the president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, the judges in the majority should never have ruled on the merits in this case until a trial was held.

“Two recently appointed appellate court judges ignored legal precedent, as well as extensive evidence that conversion therapy causes harm to LGBTQ children,” said Hoch in a prepared statement. "As a result of this erroneous ruling, LGBTQ youth in Florida once again can be subjected to the psychological abuse caused by conversion therapy."

Judge Britt Grant, joined by Judge Barbara Lagoa, wrote the majority opinion. Both are appointees of President Donald Trump. Lagoa previously served on the Florida Supreme Court and Trump briefly considered her as his Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The controversial practice known as conversion therapy has been discredited by most professional medical associations and 20 states, and more than 80 counties and municipalities in the U.S. have enacted laws prohibiting the practice on minors.

The initial challenge to the laws in Palm Beach County and Boca Raton were brought by well-known local anti-LGBT therapists Robert Otto and Julie Hamilton.

"Today's petition was filed in the hope that all 12 judges on the Eleventh Circuit will reverse the panel’s decision," said Hoch. “If the panel’s ruling is allowed to stand, all conversion therapy bans in Florida will be struck down. Moreover municipalities in Florida, Alabama and Georgia could be prohibited from enacting laws to provide protection against conversion therapy.”



Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Palm Beach County To Stengthen Equal Employment Ordinance

Palm Beach County Commission

December 8, 2020

At today's meeting, Palm Beach County Commissioners unanimously voted to amend the county's Equal Employment Ordinance by expanding protection against discrimination to job applicants and employees at small businesses throughout the county

Currently, only employees working for businesses in Palm Beach County with 15 or more employees are protected from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, genetic information, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, familial status or age.

However, employees working for small businesses throughout Palm Beach County -- those with between 5 and 14 employees -- should be protected from discrimination when the law takes effect following a final vote on January 12, 2021.
"The County's Equal Employment Ordinance is poised to be one of the strongest civil rights laws in the State of Florida," said County Commissioner Gregg Weiss, who brought the amendment before the County Commission at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC).

PBCHRC is Florida's oldest, independent, non-partisan, political organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
Over the past three decades, PBCHRC has been responsible for the implementation of more than 150 laws and policies providing equal protections, rights and benefits for the LGBTQ community.

"Palm Beach County has been in the forefront of protecting workers from discrimination for the past three decades," said PBCHRC President and Founder Rand Hoch. "Today, County Commissioners took one more step to protect women and minorities from discrimination in employment." 

 



Saturday, December 5, 2020

West Palm Beach Again Earns Top Score in LGBTQ Equality

December 5, 2020

The City of West Palm Beach has again earned a perfect score on Human Rights Campaign Foundation Municipal Equality Index (MEI) ranking of cities across the United States. Nationally, 94 cities earned perfect scores.

The MEI 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 city leadership's public position on equality. The 2020 MEI is the ninth annual edition and rates more than 506 cities on 49 different criteria from every state in the nation.
"The perfect score demonstrates the clear-cut commitment elected officials in West Palm Beach have made to the LGBTQ community over the past 30 years," said retired judge Rand Hoch, President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC).

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) is Florida's oldest, independent, non-partisan, political organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. PBCHRC promotes equality through education, advocacy, direct action, impact litigation, and community outreach. 

Since 1998, PBCHRC has been responsible for the enactment of more than 150 laws and policies providing equal protection, rights and benefits for Palm Beach County's LGBTQ community. 
“A top score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index is an extraordinary acknowledgement of the inclusiveness of City of West Palm Beach laws, policies, and services,” said West Palm Beach Mayor Keith A. James. “Our city a great place in which for LGBTQ people to live and visit. I thank the Human Rights Campaign for this recognition, as well as the many people in our city who have helped make it possible.”

Of the 20 Florida municipalities participating in the MEI, only 7 (West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Wilton Manors) scored 100 points. 

Thanks to the city's leaders, West Palm Beach has long been in the forefront of LGBTQ equality in the State of Florida

In 1990, city commissioners established the West Palm Beach Employment Practices Review Commission to recommend improvements to the city's personnel practices and procedures. The blue ribbon panel's final report included recommendations to improve the work environment for the city's lesbian and gay employees. Within months, those recommendations were unanimously adopted by the city commission. 

The following year, West Palm Beach became the first public employer in Florida to enact an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public employment. In 1992, West Palm Beach became the first public employer in Florida to provide domestic partnership benefits for municipal employees

City leaders recognized that while the laws and policies had been put into place to help gay and lesbian municipal employees, action also needed to be taken to address discrimination faced by the city's lesbian and gay residents. Therefore, in 1991, the City Commission voted to prohibit the use of any public facilities or any public funding to any entities which had discriminated against members of a variety of protected classes - including gays and lesbians. 

In 1994, the city commission enacted the West Palm Beach Equal Opportunity Ordinance, which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in private and public employment, housing and public accommodation. (The ordinance was amended in 2007 to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression.) 

Weeks after the ordinance was enacted, the local Christian Coalition collected enough signatures to hold a special election to repeal the ordinance. However, then-Mayor Nancy Graham stepped forward to lead the "'No on 1!" campaign to ensure that the newly enacted gay rights law remained on the books.

After a bitter and divisive campaign, West Palm Beach voters soundly defeated the repeal effort 56% to 44%. This historic effort marked the first time that Florida voters defeated an anti-gay referendum.

Since marriage equality was slow in coming to Florida, during the period when same-sex marriage was prohibited, elected offricials in West Palm Beach repeatedly championed laws and policies to ensure that gay and lesbian municipal employees with domestic partners received the same benefits and take home pay as married opposite employees were entitled to receive.

Even when faced with federal laws that denied workers with domestic partners benefits granted to married employees, city officials found their way to provide them for city employees. The City Commission extended equal health insurance continuation coverage (COBRA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits to city employees with domestic partners. They also provided federal tax equity reimbursements for employees insuring their domestic partners, since married employees were exempt from that taxation under federal law.

In 2015, the city commissioners updated the Equal Opportunity Ordinance by expanding the definition of "public accommodations" to prohibit consumer discrimination (e.g., "shopping while black"). The law also prohibits businesses in the wedding industry from discriminating against lesbian and gay couples. 

In 2016, City Commissioners also enacted the West Palm Beach Equal Benefits Ordinance, which required contractors doing business with the city to provide identical benefits to both married employees and employees with domestic partners.
 
Later that year, the City updated its health care plans to include trans care benefits to municipal employees.

Before year's end, West Palm Beach became the first city in Palm Beach County to prohibit the discredited practice of conversion therapy for minors.  Conversion therapy encompasses a range of discredited counseling practices by which health care providers or counselors seek to change a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression through aversion treatment.   

In 2018, West Palm Beach adopted an LGBTQ-inclusive resolution affirming its commitment to address and eliminate bullying at city facilities and in city programs. 

Earlier this year, to address the concerns of transgender and gender-nonconforming residents, Mayor Keith James directed city staff to install new signage by year's end designating all single-stall restrooms in municipal buildings as "all-gender"
 
When presented with opportunities to amend the state's civil rights laws to protect LGBTQ people, Florida Legislators have repeatedly refused to do so. In contrast, 22 states (and the District of Columbia) protect their residents from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. Nineteen of these states (and the District of Columbia) also provide similar protections on the basis of their gender identity. 

"Since the Florida Legislature has repeatedly refused to enact LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights laws, it is imperative that municipal and county leaders throughout our state work diligently to enact local laws and policies providing LGBTQ Floridians with equal protections and benefits," said Hoch. "All LGBTQ Floridians, regardless of where they live or work, should be protected from discrimination and harassment."

To view the 2020 MEI Scorecard for West Palm Beach, click here.


Friday, November 6, 2020

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance Endorsements - Updated 1/15/21

The following candidates have been endorsed by The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance for election or re-election in 2021:

Constance Scott - Boca Raton City Council Member (Seat C)

Monica Mayotte - Boca Raton City Council Member (Seat D)

Shelly Petrolia - Delray Beach Mayor

Adam Frankel - Delray Beach City Commission (Seat 1)

Ryan Boylston - Delray Beach City Commission (Seat 3)

Andy Amoroso - Lake Worth Beach City Commission (Dist. 3)

Susan Bickel - North Palm Beach Village Council (Group 2)

David Norris - North Palm Beach Village Council (Group 4)

Joseph Peduzzi - West Palm Beach City Commission (Dist. 4)


The following elected officials endorsed by The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance currently hold office:

President Joe Biden and Vice President  Kamala Harris


U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch

U.S. Congresswoman Lois Frankel

U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings


Commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services Nikki Fried


State Senator Lori Berman

State Senator Tina Polsky

State Senator Bobby Powell


State Representative Joe Casello

State Representative Omari Hardy

State Representative Kelly Skidmore

State Representative David Silvers

State Representative Emily Slosberg

State Representative Matt Whilhite


Clerk & Comptroller Joseph Abruzzo

Constitutional Tax Collector Anne Gannon

Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks

Public Defender Carey Haughwout

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw

State Attorney Dave Aronberg 

Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link


County Commissioner Mack Bernard

County Commissioner Dave Kerner

County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

County Commissioner Maria Sachs

County Commissioner Gregg Weiss

County Commissioner Robert S. Weinroth


School Board Member Marcia Andrews

School Board Member Alexandria Ayala

School Board Member Frank Barbieri. Jr.

School Board Member Karen Brill

School Board Member Barbara McQuinn

School Board Member Debra Robinson

School Board Member Erica Whitfield


Port Commissioner Joseph Anderson

Port Commissioner Blair Ciklin

Port Commissioner Jean Enright

Port Commissioner Wayne Richards

Port Commissioner Katherine Waldron


Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen 

Circuit Court Judge Jaimie Goodman

Circuit Court Judge Dina Keever-Agrama

Circuit Court Judge James Martz

Circuit Court Judge Lisa Small


County Court Judge Ted Booras County

County Court Judge Marni Bryson

County Court Judge Frank Castor

County Court Judge Edward Garrison

County Court Judge Debra Moses Stephens 

County Court Judge Ashley Zuckerman


Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor Rob Long

Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor Michelle Sylvester

Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor Eva Webb


Northern PBC Improvement District Member Ellen Baker 


Boca Raton City Mayor Scott Singer

Boca Raton City Council Member Monica Mayotte


Boynton Beach Mayor Steven Grant

Boynton Beach City Commissioner Justin Katz

Boynton Beach City Commissioner Ty Penserga

Boynton Beach City Commissioner Christina Romelus

Boynton Beach City Commissioner Woodrow Hay


Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia

Delray Beach Vice Mayor Ryan Boylston

Delray Beach City Commissioner Adam Frankel

Delray Beach City Commissioner Shirley Johnson


Greenacres City Councilwoman Paula Bousquet

Greenacres City Councilwoman Judith Dugo

Greenacres City Councilman Jonathan Pearce


Haverhill Town Councilman Ray Caranci


Lake Worth Beach Mayor Pam Triolo

Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Andy Amoroso

Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Scott Maxwell

Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Herman Robinson


North Palm Beach City Council Member Darryl Aubrey 


Palm Beach Town Councilwoman Julie Araskog

Palm Beach Town Councilman Lew Crampton

Palm Beach Town Councilwoman Danielle Hickox Moore


Palm Beach Gardens City Councilmember Rachelle Litt

Palm Beach Gardens City Councilmember Mark Marciano

Palm Beach Gardens City Councilmember Chelsea Reed


Riviera Beach City Councilwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson


Royal Palm Beach Village Mayor Fred Pinto

Royal Palm Beach Village Councilwoman Selena Samois


Wellington Village Councilman John McGovern

Wellington Village Councilman Michael Napoleone

Wellington Village Councilwoman Tanya Siskind


West Palm Beach City Commissioner Christina Lambert

West Palm Beach City Commissioner Joe Peduzzi

West Palm Beach City Commissioner Cory Neering

West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kelly Shoaf


Thursday, September 24, 2020

President's Message - September 2020

 September 24, 2020



First and foremost, I hope you are safe and well, riding out the pandemic as best as you can.
 
Throughout 2020 - despite the pandemic - the officers, directors and supporters of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, the PBCHRC Voters Alliance, and the PBCHRC Charitable Foundation continue to donate their time and talent to help the organizations move forward with our initiatives.


PBCHRC VOTERS ALLIANCE

For years, PBCHRCVA encouraged supporters and allies to vote by mail. Because of the pandemic, this year we redoubled our efforts, as we do not want any of our supporters to take unnecessary risks. During the summer we launched our "Vote Naked. Now More Than Ever!" campaign to ensure safe voting in the August Primaries. The campaign was a great success.

In light of the uncertainty concerning the U.S. Postal Service, for the General Election, we have developed a new "Vote Now!" campaign, Our goal is to encourage supporters and allies to complete and return their mail-in ballots as soon as they receive them from the Supervisor of Elections (SOE). Fully voted ballots may be returned in the envelopes provided, which must be properly signed and dated. Completed ballots may also be dropped off at early voting locations, or in person at any of the four SOE offices.


Following a review of candidates' voting records and candidate interviews (face-to-face or via Zoom), the PBCHRC Voters Alliance has made the following endorsements for 2020 General Elections:

President and Vice President - Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
U.S. Congress (Dist. 18) - Pam Keith
U.S. Congress (Dist. 20) - Alcee Hastings
U.S. Congress (Dist. 21) - Lois Frankel
U.S. Congress (Dist. 22) - Ted Deutch
Florida Senate (Dist. 29) - Tina Polsky
Florida Senate (Dist. 31) - Lori Berman
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 81) - Kelly Skidmore
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 82) - Elisa Ackerly
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 85) - Jim Carroll
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 86) - Matt Whilhite
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 87) - David Silvers
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 88) - Omari Hardy
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 89) - James Bonfiglio
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 90) - Joe Casello
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 91) - Emily Slosberg
Clerk & Comptroller - Joseph Abruzzo
Sheriff - Ric Bradshaw
Tax Collector - Anne Gannon
Palm Beach County Commission (Dist. 3) - Dave Kerner
Palm Beach County Commission (Dist. 5) - Maria Sachs
Palm Beach County Commission (Dist. 7) - Mack Bernard
Port Commissioner (Group 1) - Wayne Richards
Port Commissioner (Group 2) - Katherine Waldron
Port Commissioner (Group 3) - Jean Enright
Circuit Court Judge (Group 30) - CO-ENDORSEMENT
   You may only vote for one of the following
   Jamie Goodman OR Adam Myron
Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation (Group 4) - Rob Long

Please be sure to share our recommendations and to use them when casting your votes.


"PALM BEACH COUNTY: YOU'RE WELCOME!" CAMPAIGN

Out of 411 cities, towns and villages in Florida, only 36 have enacted LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights ordinances.

In 2015, PBCHRC launched the "Palm Beach County: You're Welcome!" campaign to encourage municipalities in Palm Beach County to enact LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights laws. Over the years, LGBTQ-inclusive municipal civil rights ordinances have been enacted in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Haverhill, Juno Beach, Lake Worth Beach, North Palm Beach, Ocean Ridge, Royal Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Wellington and Westlake to enact LGBTQ-inclusive municipal civil rights laws. (Another LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights laws is set to take effect in Riviera Beach following Final Reading on October 7).

As for the Town of Lake Park, which, on the advice of the Town Manager and Town Attorney, enacted an ordinance in 1988 that stripped away the civil rights of LGBTQ people, no progress has been made. But PBCHRC continues to work to restore our community's civil rights in the town.


"FIFTEEN TO FIVE" CAMPAIGN

Federal and Florida civil rights laws only provide protection from workplace discrimination to workers at businesses with 15 or more employees. When the West Palm Beach Equal Opportunity Ordinance and the Palm Beach County Equal Employment Ordinance were enacted, the same language was included, protecting only employees working at larger businesses.

Over the years, PBCHRC has received hundreds of complaints of employment discrimination from LGBTQ people, people of color, immigrants, other minorities, and women, who worked at small businesses. Unfortunately, there was little we could do to help.

This summer, PBCHRC launched our "Fifteen to Five" campaign to strengthen the rights of employees working for small businesses. We asked the City of West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County to update their civil rights laws to protect employees working for small businesses - those with five or more employees - from workplace discrimination.

As a result of our campaign, West Palm Beach City Commissioners unanimously voted to amend the definition of "employer" in the City's Equal Opportunity Ordinance to cover employees working for businesses with five or more employees. The amendment went into effect on August 10, 2020.

At PBCHRC's request, County Commissioner Gregg Weiss is leading the effort to have his colleagues on the County Commission amend the Palm Beach County Equal Employment Ordinance to protect the rights of workers at small businesses countywide. We expect the County Commission to take action on our request this fall.


CONVERSION THERAPY BAN COURT CHALLENGES


Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBTQ hate group, filed suit in federal court on behalf of two therapists seeking to nullify the bans on conversion therapy for minors enacted by Palm Beach County and the City of Boca Raton. The lawsuit is virtually identical to one Liberty Counsel filed against the City of Tampa.

Last year, Judge Robin Rosenberg of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida denied Liberty Counsel's motion for preliminary injunctions, which sought to prevent the bans from remaining in effect pending trial. As a result, at least for the time being, young LGBTQ people in Palm Beach County will remain safe from the psychological abuse caused by conversion therapy. Having lost, Liberty Counsel has appealed the order to the U.S. District Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit.

In February, I attended oral argument in federal court in Miami. The three judges who presided over the case include two judges appointed by President Trump and one appointed by President Obama. We await a ruling later this year.

In the Tampa case, things did not go well for LGBTQ children living in Tampa. Federal Judge William Jung, who was appointed by President Trump, struck down the city's conversion therapy ban. Having lost, the City of Tampa appealed the ruling to the U.S. District Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit. Oral argument is set for the week of November 16, 2020, in Jacksonville.


PRIDE CROSSWALKS AND STREET ART

Work is underway in Northwood Village on permanent Pride crosswalks utilizing the traditional rainbow colors. They should be fully installed by the first week in October. 

Special thanks go out to West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kelly Shoaf and Northwood Village Merchants Association President Will Davis for their efforts in making this happen. 

PBCHRC and community activists in West Palm Beach are working with the city's Art in Public Places staff, seeking additional crosswalks using the colors of the Progress Pride Flag.

In Delray Beach, resident Nicholas Coppola is working with Vice Mayor Ryan Boylston to bring Pride artwork to public spaces. Nicholas is working closely with Jim Nixon, LGBTQ Liaison to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. This summer, Jim directed the installation of a magnificent Progress Pride street mural in the heart of the city's Grand Central District.

                     St. Petersburg Progress Pride Street Mural

Boynton Beach resident Allan Hendricks and openly gay City Commissioner Ty Penserga are brainstorming about Pride public artwork, as their city awaits the hiring of new art director.

While there has been discussion of Progress Pride crosswalks in Lake Worth Beach, no formal action has yet been taken.


PBCHRC CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

The PBCHRC Charitable Foundation was established to fund scholarships and other charitable endeavors. In June, G. Joseph Garcia was named chair of the organization. He is working closely with Jasmin Lewis who heads the Foundation's Social Justice Awards Committee.

The Social Justice Awards are named after longtime PBCHRC treasurer Dan Hall, a local attorney who manages a financial counseling company. As the father of three grown children, Dan always has had a strong interest in education. Over the years, he has mentored several LGBTQ students.

This year, three college-bound high school seniors were presented $2,500 scholarships in recognition of their advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community as part of the Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards program. The Foundation also paid for the meal plan for an LGBTQ college student, provided tuition assistance for a Palm Beach State College student, made contributions to Compass and the ACLU of Florida, and provided dues assistance and T-shirts for the members supported Palm Beach Gardens Community High School's GSA.

If you would like to donate to the PBCHRC Charitable Foundation, checks may be sent to P.O. Box 267, West Palm Beach, Florida 33402. Since the Foundation was established in accordance with Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, your contributions may be tax deductible.


2021 WINTER FÊTE UNDER THE STARS

Understanding the limitations of the pandemic, we are tentatively planning to hold our Winter Fête Under the Stars on Saturday, January 23, 2021, at an outdoor location to be determined. Sandy James Fine Food & Catering and Echo will provide the food and, as always, there will be a premium open bar. Of course, everything is dependent on whether it will be safe to hold an event at that time.

Regardless of whether we can hold the event next January or at a later date, we still need to replenish our treasury at this time.
  • Underwriters who contribute $10,000 will be entitled to 8 tickets to our next Winter Fête.
  • Grand Benefactors who contribute $5,000 will be entitled to 6 tickets
  • Benefactors who contribute $2,500 will be entitled to 4 tickets.
  • Sponsors who contribute $1,000 will be entitled to 2 tickets.

Due to space limitations by the outdoor venues we are working with, individual tickets will probably not be available for the 2021 Winter Fête.


To date, the following PBCHRC supporters have joined the Host Committee for the Winter Fête:

Underwriter
Congressman Mark Foley

Grand Benefactors
Dan Hall
The Law and Mediation Offices of Rand Hoch, P.A.
W. Trent Steele and Douglas B. Andrews

Benefactors
Wood Kinnard and Alberto Arias
J. P. Sasser
Don Todorich - Corcoran Group R.E

Sponsors
Mack Bernard and Shawn N. Bernard
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw
David Cohen and Paul Bernabeo
Nicholas Coppola and David Crespo
Palm Beach Town Council Member Lew Crampton
Arlen D. Dominek and A. J. Young
Echo
Charlie Fredrickson
Paul Gervais and Gil Cohen
Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Omari Hardy
West Palm Beach City Commissioner Christina and Monte Lambert
West Palm Beach City Commissioner Joseph Peduzzi and Erin Peduzzi
Richard and Ellen Rampell
Roosters
Scott Rixford and Jose Mena
Scott Velozo and Stephen Mooney
James Watson

To contribute to PBCHRC's 2021 Winter Fête Under the Stars the stars, please use this link: pbchrc.org/events. Checks also may be sent to PBCHRC, P.O. Box 267, West Palm Beach, Florida 33402.


CURRENT INITIATIVES

PBCHRC also Is working to persuade:

*   the School District of Palm Beach County to cease doing business with Chick-fil-A and other companies that discriminate against LGBTQ people and other minorities;

*   the Health Care District of Palm Beach County to provide trans-specific healthcare services to indigent patients; and

*   the State of Florida to prohibit discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" and ban conversion therapy statewide.

For more than three decades, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has worked diligently on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. With your support, we will continue to do so in the years to come. As always, we will keep you posted on our progress.

Stay safe and keep healthy.


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