Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Meet Our New Board Member - Rhonda Williams

The Board of Directors of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council is pleased to annouce the election of  Rhonda Williams to our board.

Rhonda Williams is a writer, blogger, engineer, entrepreneur, software developer, and life coach. Born and raised in a small town in southern Virginia, Ms. Williams went on to live in a bigger world as an information technology innovator and transgender activist. Rhonda attended Virginia Commonwealth University majoring in Engineering. In 1983 she founded a software company that brought to market the first PC-based personnel system and the first consumer tax preparation software package.Today she spends much of her time consulting with nonprofits and speaking on gender issues relating to transgender acceptance. Her blog, Rhonda's Escape, has nearly 3 million total views and offers daily posts that encourage others to escape whatever is keeping them from living a full life. 
"I had nothing to do with creating this gender incongruity and I accept the fact it is a permanent characteristic. My life is now 'out to the world' so I had no alternative but to own it. I have often said that being transgender is the most confused, conflicted, and distracting, yet amazing journey I could ever imagine. I have also learned much about myself along the way.  I began to realize that the joy of living is about escaping self-limits and being proud. I am unapologetic and cognizant that nothing up to this point precludes me from bringing vibrant, attractive and self-confident. It is all about accepting myself and daring to live and experience life to the full. It is about looking my best, being my best and going out and exuding the class and confidence that the world expects from any woman. "


Sunday, March 29, 2020

President's Message - April 2020

April 2020

Unlike LGBTQ Floridians living in more than 80% of our state's counties, Palm Beach County's LGBTQ residents are protected from
discrimination in employment, housing and the full range of public accommodations. (While LGBTQ people living in and visiting the Towns of Juno Beach and Lake Park are no longer protected from discrimination in housing and places of public accommodations, PBCHRC is working on getting full civil rights restored in the two towns.)

Public school students throughout Palm Beach County are protected from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There are serious consequences for teachers and other school district employees who let bullying and harassment go unreported. Lesbian and gay couples throughout Palm Beach County, regardless of whether they are married, and their children are entitled to many of the same benefits as other families. Moreover, unlike almost all of Florida, conversion therapy for minors is prohibited throughout Palm Beach County.

The U.S. Senate will not vote in 2020 on the Equality Act passed last year by the U.S. House of Representatives. In Florida, the Competitive Workforce Act, which, if ever enacted, would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, and public accommodations was dead on arrival in the 2020 session of the Florida Legislature - making this the eleventh consecutive time the bill went nowhere. Therefore, LGBTQ Floridians can only rely on counties, school districts and municipalities to protect our rights.


2020 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS

Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance (PBCHRCVA) has interviewed close to 1,000 candidates for public office, made endorsements, and repeatedly publicized the endorsements as part of our Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) initiative.

Municipal elections throughout Palm Beach County were held on March 17. However, prior to the elections, two PBCHRCVA-endorsed candidates, Palm Beach Gardens Vice Mayor Rachelle Litt and Royal Palm Beach Village Councilwoman Selena Samois, were re-elected without opposition. Other PBCHRC supporters who were elected or re-elected without opposition include Greenacres City Councilwoman Paula Bousquet, Greenacres Mayor Joel Flores, Palm Beach Town Council Member Lew Crampton, Palm Beach Gardens City Councilmember Mark Marciano, Royal Palm Beach Village Mayor Fred Pinto, Wellington Village Council Member Michael Napoleone and West Palm Beach City Commissioner-Elect Christy Fox.  

Despite the concern with coronavirus, PBCHRC supporters and allies once again were a significant voting bloc -- thanks to our Vote-By-Nail and Early Voting campaigns.  Once again, close to thwo-thirs of our supporters cast their ballors prior to Election Day

Over the years, LGBTQ people have been elected to office in Boynton Beach, Cloud Lake, Haverhill, Lake Park, Lake Worth Beach, Lantana, Manalapan, Pahokee, Palm Beach Shores, Riviera Beach, and West Palm Beach. Palm Beach County is unique in Florida, as close to one-third of Palm Beach County's municipalities have elected LGBTQ mayors, commissioners and council members since PBCHRCVA first started endorsing candidates in 1988.  


On March 17, openly-LGBTQ Boynton Beach City Commissioner Ty Penserga was re-elected by a landslide.   

Congratulations Ty!

Things were more complicated in the race for Haverhill Town Council (Seat 2), where incumbent Daniel Sohn faced challenger Ray Caranci – both of whom ran as openly-LGBTQ candidates.   After PBCHRCVA conducted research on both candidates and held face-to-face interviews, challenger Rae Caranci was endorsed by PBCHRCVA.  In contrast two other LGBTQ political organizations -- Equality Florida Action PAC and the Rusty Gordon LGBTQ Democratic Caucus – rushed through their endorsements of Sohn without even giving Caranci the opportunity to participate in their endorsement process!

When all the votes were counted following the March 17 election, there were 153 votes for Caranci and 152 votes for Sohn. Since the margin was less than one-percent of the total votes cast, a mandatory recount was conducted on March 20 -- and there was no change in the count. However, one overseas ballot had not yet been returned. In accordance with the Florida Election Code, the race could not be called until March 27, to give the overseas ballot time to be returned. Since that ballot was not returned timely, on March 27, Ray Caranci was certified as the winner. When he is sworn in as a Haverhill Town Council Member, on April 9, Ray will become Palm Beach County's -- and Florida's -- newest openly-LGBTQ elected official.

Congratulations Ray!

PBCHRCVA is pleased that our efforts have paid off. In addition to Ty Penserga and Ray Caranci, the following candidates endorsed by The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance were elected or re-elected on in the March municipal elections: 
  • Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer
  • Boynton Beach City Commissioner Woodrow Hay
  • Delray Beach City Commissioner Shirley Johnson
  • North Palm Beach Village Council Member Darryl Aubrey
  • Palm Beach Gardens City Council Member Chelsea Reed
  • West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kelly Shoaf
  • West Palm Beach City Commissioner Christina Lambert
PBCHRC congratulates all!

 
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.  

I attended oral argument in federal court in Miami on February 11, 2020.  The three judges who presided over the case include two new judges appointed by President Trump and one who was appointed by President Obama.  We await a ruling later this year.

In the Tampa case, things did no go well. Judge William Jung of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, who was appointed by President Trump, granted Liberty Counsel's clients motion for a preliminary injunction. Therefore, it remains legal for conversion therapy practitioners in Tampa to continue to "treat" children with "talk therapy" pending a trial. Having lost, the City of Tampa has appealed the order to the U.S. District Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit. While the City of Tampa and the Liberty Counsel have filed their briefs, no date has been set for oral argument. PBCHRC will keep you posted.


DANIEL S. HALL SOCIAL JUSTICE AWARDS
 
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) CONTINUES TO accept applications for the Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards -- college scholarships available to graduating LGBTQ+ high school seniors from Palm Beach County. The awards are named after Dan Hall, who has served as PBCHRC's for the past 30 years. As a father of three, an activist, and a mentor of gay youth, Dan has always had a strong interest in education.

Applications are due no later than midnight April 10, 2020

To apply online, please use this link:

CONGRATULATIONS

Congratulations to Rhonda Williams and Janiece N. Davis, MPH on being elected to PBCHRC's Board of Directors.

CURRENT INITIATIVES
 
PBCHRC Board Member Rhonda Williams and Janiece Davis are spearheading our campaign to encourage the Health Care District of Palm Beach County to provide trans-specific healthcare services to indigent patients.

Boynton Beach City Commissioner Ty Penserga has begun working with his colleagues on the City Commission to have the city designate all single-use- restrooms on municipal property to be designated "All Gender".

Katrina Long- Robinson, Vice Mayor of the City of Westlake is working on encouraging her colleagues on the City Council to enact an LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights ordinance

PBCHRC Board Members Jasmin Lewis and Tamara Singer are working with the Palm Beach County Multicultural Committee and Complete Count Committee to help ensure all LGBTQ+ residents of Palm Beach County are included in the census.

The Council's current projects include persuading: 
  • Palm Beach County, Boynton Beach, and West Palm Beach, to designate the single-stall restrooms in municipal buildings as "All-Gender", 
  • the City of West Palm Beach to install at least one LGBTQ Pride rainbow crosswalk,
  •  the City of Westlake, the Towns of North Palm Beach and Havehill, the Village of North Palm Beach , and all other municipalities in Palm Beach County to enact civil rights ordinances which include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression.
  • 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,
  •  the State of Florida to prohibit discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression", and
  •  the State of Florida to prohibit conversion therapy.
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!

Judge Rand Hoch (retired),

President and Founder

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance Endorsements - 2020 - Updated 3/28/20

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance endorses candidates who support LGBTQ initiatives and privacy rights.


Endorsements of candidates are made upon consideration of: 

  • How a candidate has voted on LGBTQ issues 
  • How a candidate has supported the Palm Beach County LGBTQ community

The following candidates have been endorsed by The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance for election or re-election in 2020:

Constitutional Tax Collector - Anne Gannon
Palm Beach County Commission (Dist. 1) - Karen Marcus

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

U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch
U.S. Congresswoman Lois Frankel
U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings

Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried


State Senator Lori Berman

State Senator Bobby Powell
State Senator Kevin Rader

State Representative Joe Casello

State Representative Al Jacquet
State Representative Tina Polsky
State Representative David Silvers
State Representative Emily Slosberg
State Representative Matt Willhite

County Commissioner Mary Lou Berger

County Commissioner Mack Bernard
County Commissioner Dave Kerner
County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
County Commissioner Hal Valeche
County Commissioner Gregg Weiss
County Commissioner Robert S. Weinroth

Clerk of the Circuit Court Sharon Bock

Constitutional Tax Collector Anne Gannon
Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks
Public Defender Carey Haughwout
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw
State Attorney Dave Aronberg

School Board Member Marcia Andrews

School Board Member Frank Barbieri
School Board Member Karen Brill
School Board Member Barbara McQuinn
School Board Member Debra Robinson
School Board Member Chuck Shaw
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 Jaimie Goodman

Circuit Court Judge Dina Keever-Agrama
Circuit Court Judge James Martz
Circuit Court Judge Lisa Small

County Court Judge Ted Booras

County Court Judge Marni Bryson
County Court Judge  Frank Castor
County Court Judge Edward Garrison
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

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 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 Council Member Ray Caranci

Lake Worth Beach Mayor Pam Triolo
Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Andy Amoroso
Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Omari Hardy
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 Cory Neering
West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kelly Shoaf


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.

Meet Our New Board Member - Janiece N. Davis, MPH

The Board of Directors of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council is pleased to annouce the election of  Janiece Davis to our board.


Janiece Davis works to better the lives of residents who live, work, and play in Palm Beach County through the implementation of policy, systems, and environmental change related to tobacco use. She works to build private-public partnerships and fosters youth involvement in the policy process. Her efforts within the community have resulted in many successes, including collaborating with the School District of Palm Beach County to remove school districts from preemption within the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act and implementing the first comprehensive tobacco-free schools policy in Florida. 

Her work with mentoring youth resulted in HB 439 during the 2013 Florida Legislative Session, and collaborated with neighboring South Florida counties to develop a local campaign called Not a Replacement, which was chosen by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids as their official national campaign for Kick Butts Day 2015. She is the recipient of several awards and honors, and is a member of the Beta Upsilon Chapter of the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health and Leadership Florida Connect Class IX. Ms. Davis received both her Master of Public Health and Bachelor of Science Degrees from the University of Florida. 

Pride on the Block - Sunday, March 8th from 4-10 pm

Please join PBCHRC for

Pride on the Block
 
500 Block of Clematis Street
West Palm Beach 
Sunday, March 8, 2020
4:00 to 10:00 p.m.



MEDIA RELEASE:PBCHRC Statement on State Representative Al Jacquet's Homophobic Slur

In response to the homophobic slur used by State Rep. Al Jacquet against Lake Worth Beach City Commission Omari Hardi, PBCHRC issues the following statement.

To view a video of Jacquet's rant, go to:

(West Palm Beach, Florida)  The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) received more than a dozen e-mails with links to State Representative Al Jacquet's video rants -- including he one in which he referred to Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Omari Hardy as a "batty boy". 

According to Wikipedia, the term is a pejorative term often used to refer to a gay or effeminate man.

Jacquet's words are reprehensible.
 
Al Jacquet must immediately and genuinely apologize to Omari Hardy, the LGBTQ community, his colleagues in the Legislature, and his constituents. If he fails to do so, at the very least, Jacquet should be censured by The Florida House of Representatives -- if not removed from office. 

Judge Rand Hoch (ret.)
President and Founder
Palm Beach County Human Rights Council
(561) 358-0105
rand-hoch@usa.ne
t

Sign Up and Vote Naked! PBCHRC Voters Alliance Endorsements

Why wait in line at the polls 
to cast your ballot
on March 17?
 
_______________

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO SEE
THE 
 
PBCHRC VOTERS ALLIANCE
ENDORSEMENTS

As a Palm Beach County voter, you may vote
in the privacy of your own home.  
But first, you must obtain a vote-by-mail ballot.

The deadline to request that a Vote-by-Mail ballot be mailed to you for the March 17, 2020, election is no later than 5:00 p.m. on March 7, 2020.  (If you miss the deadline, you can visit any of the offices of the Supervisor of Elections and they will print a mail ballot for you. Or you can vote in person during Early Voting or on Election Day.)


You may request for a Vote-by-Mail ballot
Your Vote-by-Mail ballot may be sent to your legal residence address, permanent mailing address or a temporary address. When sending a Vote-by-Mail ballot to an address not on file with the Florida Voter Registration System (such as your college address), the request must be in writing and signed by the voter. The online mail ballot request service system will notify you if the address is not already on file and you will be prompted to print, sign and submit your request to our office. Written signed requests may be made by mail, fax (561) 656-6230, or as an attachment to email votebymail@pbcelections.org.

Vote-by-mail return envelopes 
finally have prepaid postage, 
so there is no need to use stamps!

For more information about voting-by-mail 
in Palm Beach County, click here

If you receive a vote-by-mail ballot and wish to vote in person on Election Day, you MUST bring your ballot to the polls and turn it over to the poll workers before you can vote.

To track the status of your vote-by-mail ballot request from the time you submit it until the voted ballot is returned to the Office of the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, go to the free Online Ballot tracking system by clicking here and following the easy directions. 

__________________________
 
Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance (PBCHRCVA) has interviewed more than 1,000 candidates and has made endorsements in hundreds of races for public office. LGBTQ and allied voters have relied on our endorsements to elect candidates who, in turn, have enacted 135 laws and policies  benefiting the LGBTQ community. (There probably are more LGBTQ-supportive laws and policies in effect in Palm Beach County than in all of Florida's other 66 counties combined!) 

PBCHRCVA has been conducting face-to-face endorsement interviews with candidates for federal, state and local offices. PBCHRCVA endorsements are based on how a candidate has supported the local LGBTQ community. For candidates who hold (or have held) public office, we also consider how those candidates have voted on LGBTQ issues.


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

Boca Raton Mayor - Scott Singer

Boynton Beach City Commission (Dist. 2) - Woodrow Hay
Boynton Beach City Commission (Dist. 4) - Ty Penserga

Delray Beach City Commission (Seat 2) - William Bathurst
Delray Beach City Commission (Seat 4) - Shirley Johnson

Haverhill Town Council (Seat 2) - Ray Caranci

Jupiter Town Council (Dist. 1) - Wayne Posner
North Palm Beach Village Council (Group 3) - Darryl C. Aubrey
Palm Beach Gardens City Council (Group 3) - Chelsea Reed
Palm Beach Shores Mayor - Myra Koutzen

West Palm Beach City Commission (Dist. 1) - Kelly Shoaf
West Palm Beach City Commission (Dist. 5) - Christina Lambert

________________________
  
Please note: PBCHRCVA has not made endorsements in every race
and not all of the listed candidates
will appear on your ballot.

PBCHRCVA is not only relying on you to vote in the upcoming election, we are also counting on you to share this e-mail with LGBTQ and allied voters, so progress on our issues can continue to be made.
 
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

Please join us for a chat with Walter Naegle


Palm Beach County Library
Okeechobee Boulevard Branch
5689 Okeechobee Boulevard
West Palm Beach

Walter Naegle is Bayard Rustin's surviving partner and executive director of the Bayard Rustin Fund, which commemorates Rustin's life, values and legacy.
In "Troublemaker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the March on Washington," Walter Naegle traces the life of Bayard Rustin, a major figure in the civil rights movement-arrested on a bus 13 years before Rosa Parks, mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,organizer for the March on Washington. 

The book details Bayard Rustin's life of nonviolent activism and resistance, an often overlooked voice for immigrants and refugees, the poor, women and the LGBTQ community. Kirkus Reviews have named it the book a Best Book of 2019. 

Please register by using this link:

Saturday, February 8, 2020

2020 Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards


PBCHRC Treasurer Dan Hall and 
scholarship recipient Victor Espidol

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) is accepting applications for the Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Award -- a college scholarship available to graduating LGBTQ+ high school seniors from Palm Beach County.

PBCHRC is a local, independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Each year we award these scholarships to up to three 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 PBCHRC's treasurer since 1990 and is the organization's 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. 

To apply online, please go to:



Applications are due no later than midnight April 10, 2020

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

West Palm Beach Begins Gender-Neutral Restroom Initiative


West Palm Beach City Hall Complex

(West Palm Beach, Florida) The City of West Palm Beach has desgnated thirty single-occupancy restrooms in the City Hall complex as "Gender Neutral". 

The installation of the thirty signs completes Phase One of the Gender Neutral Restroom Project initiated in West Palm Beach last year by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC). PBCHRC is Florida's oldest, independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. 

"Transgender, gender nonconforming, nonbinary, and intersex people often face prejudice, discrimination and humiliation in their everyday lives," said PBCHRC President and Founder Hoch. "They deserve the same dignity and respect as everyone else enjoys, in every area of their lives - including being able to use public restrooms in which they feel comfortable."

"The segregation of single-occupancy restrooms by gender no longer makes sense," said West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James. "No person in West Palm Beach should be denied the ability to use a single-stall restroom just because of who they are."

Signs on multiple-occupancy restrooms in the City Hall Complex will retain the designations "Men" or "Women".

A 2015 study by the National Center for Transgender Equality found that 59% of transgender adults avoided using a public restroom out of fear of confrontation and 32% limited how much they ate or drank just to avoid using a public restroom.

According to a 2016 study published by The Williams Institute, an estimated 0.6% of adult Americans identify as transgender. With more than 100,000 transgender adults, Florida ranks sixth in the United States.

"All gender restrooms will also ease the burden on people with disabilities who require the help of attendants, as well as parents with children of a different gender," said James. "All West Palm Beach residents should feel equally safe, supported, comfortable and included when they go out."

Phase Two of PBCHRC's Gender Neutral Restroom Project should be completed in the upcoming months when the news signs are installed at 130 additional single-occupancy restrooms on properties owned by the City of West Palm Beach.

For the final stage of the project, PBCHRC will be asking the West Palm Beach City Commission to update the City's building code to require gender neutral signs on all single-occupancy restooms in commercial buildings throughout the city. 

PBCHRC has also asked Palm Beach County to designate single-occupancy restrooms in county owned buildings to be designated as as All-Gender. The county's Director of Facilities Development & Operations recently recommended the designation in a report to the County Commissioners, who will  consider the recommendation later this year.  

Vermont, New Mexico, Illinois, and California, as well as in the cities of Austin, Chicago, Denver, Gainesville, Hoboken, Miami Beach, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Seattle and Washington, DC. have enacted laws mandating that single-occupancy toilets in public spaces be labeled gender-neutral. In addition, more than 200 colleges and universities throughout the United States also require gender neutral restrooms. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Florida's Oldest Gay Rights Law Turns 30

January 16, 2020

Today Florida's oldest gay rights law marks its 30th anniversary.

Thirty years ago, there was not a single law in effect in Florida which provided protection against discrimination for gay men and lesbians.

That changed on January 16, 1990 when Palm Beach County Commissioners voted 4-1 to prohibit discrimination in housing and public accommodations based on a person's sexual orientation.

LGBTQ rights activists celebrate vitory in 1990


The historic gay rights campaign was led by Rand Hoch, President of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council "(PBCHRC") and Jim Swope, President of the now-defunct Atlantic Coast Democratic Club ("ACDC").

Over the years, PBCHRC has been responsible for the enactment of more than 130 local pro-LGBTQ+ laws and policies.

"It was no easy task in 1990 to convince elected officials in Florida - especially Republicans - to openly support gay rights," said Hoch. "There was just too much history."

In 1977, Dade County Commissioners enacted a gay rights law. Shortly thereafter singer Anita Bryant formed Save Our Children ("SOS") which campaigned for a special election to repeal the law.  (FOR A TREAT, PLEASE CLICK ON THE "ANITA BRYANT" LINK)

In 1978, when the votes were counted following a heated and ugly campaign, the law was repealed by a vote of more than 2-1.

There were no further efforts to secure gay rights in Florida until 1989, when gay rights activists in Tampa and in Broward County sought to have their counties' laws amended to protect sexual orientation based on sexual orientation. However, both efforts failed.

After carefully studying the unsuccessful gay rights efforts in Florida, Swope and Hoch came up with a different strategy."

"Our goals were simple. We activated LGBTQ people and our allies and then educated the commissioners," said Swope. "Ultimately, we out-organized our opponents."

In the weeks leading up to the hearing, commissioners received more than 3,000 letters from constituents in support of gay rights. In contrast, there were only 43 opposing the proposed change in the law.

The public hearing, which was intentionally scheduled to fall on the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, lasted more than three hours. More than 100 residents crowded the County Commission Chambers.

Thirty people, including lawyers, educations, REALTORS, two rabbis, a minister and a retired Episcopal bishop spoke in favor of the gay rights law.

Only seventeen people spoke against it.

"We not only had more teachers, we had more preachers," said Hoch, who was the last member of the public to speak before the commissioners deliberated.


"It all comes down to this -- 'Equal Justice Under Law' a concept so American that it is literally carved in stone above the entrance to the United States Supreme Court," Hoch told the commissioners.

When the votes were cast, Democratic County Commissioners Carol Roberts and Carole Phillips voted in favor of the change, as did Republican County Commissioners Carol Elmquist and Karen Marcus.

Commissioner Ron Howard, also a Republican, cast the sole vote against protecting the county's gay men and lesbians.

While the four commissioners who voted to protect the gay and lesbian community were re-elected, Ron Howard was not. And despite several attempts, he never held public office again.

The law, the Palm Beach County Ordinance for Equal Opportunity to Housing and Places of Public Accommodation, has since been amended to prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

President's Message - January 2020


January 2020

Unlike LGBTQ Floridians living in more than 80% of our state's counties, Palm Beach County's LGBTQ residents are protected from discrimination in employment, housing and the full range of public accommodations. (Unfortunately, LGBTQ people living in and visiting the Towns of Juno Beach Lake Park are no longer protected from discrimination in housing and places of public accommodations; however, PBCHRC is working on getting their full civil rights restored in the two towns.)
In addition, Palm Beach County public school students are protected from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity -- and there are serious consequences for teachers and other school district employees who let bullying and harassment go unreported. 

Moreover, lesbian and gay couples throughout Palm Beach County (regardless of whether they are married) and their children are entitled to many of the same benefits as families based on marriages. 

Furthermore, conversion therapy for minors remains prohibited throughout Palm Beach County.

All of these achievements are the result of the work done by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), our allies, and most importantly, our supportive public officials.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate will not vote in 2020 on the Equality Act passed last year by the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Moreover, there is no chance that the Competitive Workforce Act will be approved by the Florida Legislature in the 2020 legislative session. 

Therefore, at least for the foreseeable future, LGBTQ Floridians can only rely on counties, school districts and municipalities to protect our rights.


2020 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS

On March 17, 2020, municipal elections will be held in Palm Beach County in conjunction with the Presidential Preference Primaries. 


Last year, PBCHRC Voters Alliance (PBCHRCVA) endorsed Palm Beach Gardens Vice Mayor Rachelle Litt and Royal Palm Beach Village Councilwoman Selena Samois. Both were recently re-elected without opposition. 

Other PBCHRC supporters who were elected or re-elected without opposition include Greenacres Mayor Joel Flores, Greenacres City Councilwoman Paula Bousquet, Palm Beach Town Council Member Lew Crampton, Palm Beach Gardens City Councilmember Mark Marciano, Royal Palm Beach Village Mayor Fred Pinto, Wellington Village Council Member Michael Napoleone, and West Palm Beach City Commissioner-Elect Christy Fox. 

Congratulations to all!
PBCHRCVA has also endorsed Palm Beach Shores Mayor Myra Koutzen, as well as West Palm Beach City Commissioners Christina Lambert and Kelly Shoaf in the upcoming municipal elections. 

In February, PBCHRCVA will consider interviewing candidates seeking office in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Haverhill, Jupiter, Lake Worth Beach, North Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. 

To keep up with the PBCHRCVA endorsements, click here.



CONVERSION THERAPY BAN COURT CHALLENGES


Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBTQ hate group, filed suit in federal court in West Palm Beach 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 Judge Rosenberg's to the U.S. District Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit. Briefs have been filed and oral argument before the U.S. District Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit is set for February 11, 2020.

Unfortunately, things did not go well in the Tampa lawsuit.

Judge William Jung of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida granted Liberty Counsel's clients motion for a preliminary injunction. Therefore, it remains legal for conversion therapy practitioners in Tampa to continue to "treat" children with "talk therapy" pending a trial. 

Having lost, the City of Tampa has appealed the order to the U.S. District Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit. While the City of Tampa has filed its brief, Liberty Counsel's brief has yet to be filed.

Liberty Counsel's ultimate goal is to have a case concerning conversion therapy bans reach the U. S. Supreme Court. While the Court has repeatedly refused to take up a conversion therapy ban case, times have changed. In light of President Trump's appointment of conservative Associate Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, it is possible that there will be a ruling on the legality conversion therapy bans within the next few years. This does not bode will for LGBTQ you across out nation.


WINTER FÊTE 2020


PBCHRC's annual Winter Fête will be held at Villa Fontana in Palm Beach on January 25, 2020.  As always, this popular fundraising event is SOLD OUT!  



PBCHRC thanks Winter Fête Hosts Bill Eberhardt and Todd Hase; VIP Reception Hosts Michael Fowler and David Mittleman; Grand Benefactors Dan Hall, The Law and Mediation Offices of Rand Hoch, P.A., and W. Trent Steele and Douglas B. Andrews; Benefactors Mauricio Busa and Barry Hayes, Congressman Mark Foley, Sandy James Fine Food & Catering, Wood Kinnard and Alberto Arias, and Van Stewart; and Sponsors Alexandria Ayala for School Board, District 2, Altima International, Timothy and Kevin Baird, Lee Bell and Fotios Pantazis, State Senator Lori Berman, Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard and Shawn N. Bernard, Bill Bone, James A. Bonfiglio, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, Hon. Karen Brill, candidate for County Commission District 5, Castle Wealth Management, David Cohen and Paul Bernabeo, Coda-Tours.com - Exclusive Tours & Luxury Travel. Nicholas Coppola and David Crespo, Cornerstone Solutions, Palm Beach Town Council Member Lew Crampton, Arlen D. Dominek and A. J. Young, Echo, Florida Sugar Cane League Diane Freaney and Sharon Koskoff, Charlie Fredrickson, Edith Friedheim and Peter Cruise, Paul Gervais and Gil Cohen, Howard A. Grossman, MD, Integrity Palm Beach, Richard P. Katzenberg and John F. Betz, West Palm Beach City Commissioner Christina and Monte Lambert, Bruce Langmaid and Charles Poole, Gregg S. Lerman, Sid Lesowitz and Peter Rogers, Palm Beach Gardens Vice Mayor Rachelle Litt and Dr. Jeffrey Litt, Coy Lynch, MBAF Accountants and Advisors, LLC, Dr. Mark Marciano, Mayor Palm Beach Gardens and Dr. Brandee Marciano, Ross Meltzer and Victor Figueredo, West Palm Beach City Commissioner Joseph Peduzzi and Erin Peduzzi, Nancy Proffitt And Susan Reinheimer, Joseph Pubillones Interiors, State Senator Kevin Rader, Richard and Ellen Rampell, Scott Rixford and Jose Mena, Roosters, Michael Rubin and David Kamp, West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kelly Shoaf, Boca Raton City Councilor Andy Thomson, Don Todorich - Corcoran Group R.E, Scott Velozo and Stephen Mooney, Donald Watren and Tony Jaggi, James Watson, Palm Beach County Commissioner Gregg and Rebecca Weiss, and State Representative Matt Willhite.

Thanks also go out to Todd's for a fantastic Winter Fête Kick-Off reception last October.

IN OTHER NEWS

The City of Lake Worth Beach adopted an LGBTQ-inclusive resolution affirming its commitment to address and eliminate bullying at city facilities and in city programs

The PBCHRC Charitable Foundation has been established to fund educational scholarships and other charitable endeavors. Our thanks go out to Integrity Palm Beach for their generous donation to the PBCHRC Charitable Foundation.

PBCHRC continues our partnership with the Florida Hate Crime Coalition in support of the Crimes Evidencing Prejudice Act, sponsored by State Senator Kevin Rader (D-Boca Raton). If enacted into law, Florida's Hate Crime Act would be amended to include both "gender" and "gender identity" as protected classes. (The current law applies to offenses based on a victim's race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status, or advanced age.) Rader's bill would also strengthen the law's protections against the physically disabled. The bill is sponsored in the by State Representative Joe Geller (D-Aventura).
Meredith Ockman has been elected Vice President of PBCHRC and G. Joseph Garcia, Jasmin Lewis, and Tamara Sager have been elected to our Board of Directors.
 
PBCHRC Board member Michael Fowler has been named Chair of the Palm Beach Tech Association.

Dr. Rachel Needle has been recognized as the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association's Advocate of the Year.

Robert Telford has been reappointed to serve as the Mayor's LGBTQ liaison in West Palm Beach.

At PBCHRC's request, the City of West Palm Beach will designate thirty single-occupancy restrooms at the City Hall complex as "All Gender".

Also at PBCHRC's request, Palm Beach County's Director of Facilities Development & Operations has issued a report recommending that single-occupancy restrooms at County facilities be designated as "All Gender". County Commissioners will consider her recommendation later this year.  

Palm Beach County, the cities of Delray Beach and West Palm Beach, and the Village of Wellington have signed onto the appellate brief filed by the City of Miami Beach in opposition to the decision of an Orange County circuit court judge which nullified that county's LGBT-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance.
 

CURRENT INITIATIVES 

The Council's current projects include persuading:

  *  Palm Beach County and the City of Boynton Beach to designate all single-occupancy restrooms in municipal buildings as "All-Gender",

  *  the City of West Palm Beach to designate more 100 additional single-occupancy restrooms in other municipal buildings through the city as "All-Gender",

  *  the City of West Palm Beach to install at least one LGBTQ Pride rainbow crosswalk,

  *  the West Palm Beach City Commission to provide at least $10,000 in annual funding to be used for programs for LGBTQ youth and seniors,

  *  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,

  *  the State of Florida to prohibit discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression",

  *  the State of Florida to prohibit conversion therapy, and,

  *  all municipalities in Palm Beach County to enact civil rights ordinances which specifically protect rights and benefits based on a person's "sexual orientation" and/or "gender identity or expression.

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 - and we will keep you informed about our progress.

Judge Rand Hoch (retired),
President and Founder