August 19, 2020
First and foremost, I hope you are safe and well, riding out the storm of 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 their initiatives.
PBCHRC VOTERS ALLIANCE
For years, PBCHRCVA encouraged supporters to vote by mail. However, in light of the pandemic, this year we redoubled our efforts. We did not want any of our supporters to take unnecessary risks. Therefore, we redoubled our efforts and launched the "Vote Naked. Now More Than Ever!" campaign to ensure our supporters were able to vote safely.
As a result of PBCHRCVA's get-out-the-vote campaigns, a record number of LGBTQ and allied voters participated in the August 18 Primary Election. The following PBCHRCVA-endorsed candidates were victorious on August 18:
Congresswoman Lois Frankel
Congressman Alcee Hastings
Pam Keith, Candidate for Congress
Tina Polsky, Candidate for Florida Senate
Omari Hardy, Candidate for Florida House of Representatives
Kelly Skidmore, Candidate for Florida House of Representatives
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw
Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link
School Board Member-Elect Alexandira Ayala
School Board Member Frank Barbieri, Jr.
School Board MemberBarbara McQuinn
Port Commissioner Katherine Waldron
Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen
County Court Judge Debra Moses Stephens
Congratulations to all!
We were thrilled this year to see how many PBCHRCVA-endorsed candidates referenced our endorsement and used our logo in their television, social media, and print media campaigns.
For a complete list of candidates endorsed by PBCHRCVA for the General Election, click here.
"PALM BEACH COUNTY: YOU'RE WELCOME!"
Out of 411 cities, towns and villages in Florida, only 32 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, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Lake Worth Beach, North Palm Beach, Ocean Ridge, West Palm Beach, Wellington, and Westlake.
Openly gay Haverhill Town Council Member Ray Caranci is leading the effort to have his town enact an LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights ordinance. The First Reading on the civil rights ordinance is set for August 27 and the Final Reading is set for September 10.
PBCHRC Board Members Rhonda Williams and Jasmin Lewis are working with the Town of Juno Beach and the City of Riviera Beach respectively on the enactment of LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights ordinances before summer's end.
While PBCHRC Board Member Michael Fowler and I have renewed PBCHRC's longstanding efforts to have the City of Palm Beach Gardens enact an LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights ordinance, as usual, we are getting resistance from City Manager Ron Ferris. As a result of his continued obstructionism, the item has yet to be placed on a City Council agenda - even for discussion, let alone a vote - by the elected officials.
PBCHRC has also asked the Village of Palm Springs to consider enacting LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights ordinances before year's end.
Finally, 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.
"FIFTEEN TO FIVE"
Federal and Florida civil rights laws only provide protection from workplace discrimination to workers at businesses with fifteen 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.
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 will be 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.
In 2020, three graduating high school seniors were presented $2,500 scholarship 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:
Congressman Mark Foley
The Law and Mediation Offices of Rand Hoch, P.A.
W. Trent Steele and Douglas B. Andrews
Wood Kinnard and Alberto Arias
Arlen D. Dominek and A.J. Young
Paul Gervais and Gil Cohen
MBAF, Accountants and Advisors, LLC
Richard and Ellen Rampell
Scott Rixford and Jose Mena
Scott Velozo and Stephen Mooney
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.
- PBCHRC Board Member Chauncey Graham has been selected for Leadership Florida Connect for 2020-2021 and was appointed to West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James Task Force for Racial and Ethnic Equality.
- PBCHRC Board Member Jasmin Lewis has been named a 2021 Victory Fund Endowment Fellow. Jasmin recently represented PBCHRC as a Delegate to the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
- Former PBCHRC Board Member Matthew McWatters is now a first year student at Florida Coastal School.
West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kelly Shoaf has advised us that work is underway for the first Pride crosswalk in Palm Beach County. Located at the intersection of Northwood Road and Spruce Avenue in the heart of Northwood Village, the Northwood Rainbow Crossing is set to be completed no later than September 28.
While PBCHRC has asked the City to hold a dedication with Commissioner Shoaf, Mayor James, and representatives from the Northwood Village Merchants Association, the Old Northwood Association, Northend Neighborhood Association, Compass and PBCHRC (among others) in attendance, we're not sure this is possible in light of the pandemic.
In addition, PBCHRC is also 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
- 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, P.O. Box 267, West Palm Beach, Florida 33402.