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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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

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

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
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
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: Checks also may be sent to PBCHRC, P.O. Box 267, West Palm Beach, Florida 33402.


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

No comments:

Post a Comment