Tuesday, September 11, 2012

PBCHRC Update - September 2012

Thanks to the voter identification, early voting, absentee ballot and get-out-the vote campaigns conducted by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance, members of Palm Beach County’s LGBT community– and our allies – turned out in record numbers for the August 14, 2012 election.   In contrast, voter turnout in the non-LGBT population was dismally low.

Thanks to your efforts, almost all of the endorsed candidates were victorious in the August 24 primary election.  After more than two decades of educating and turning out LGBT and allied voters, we are proud of our successes.

The candidates endorsed by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance who were elected (or re-elected) to serve in the following offices include:

●    State Senator District 27 - Jeff Clemens
●    State House of Representatives (District 87) - David Kerner
●    Clerk of the Circuit Court - Sharon Bock
●    Property Appraiser - Gary Nikolits  
●    Supervisor of Elections - Susan Bucher
●    Tax Collector - Anne M. Gannon
●    Port of Palm Beach (Group 1) - Wayne Richards
●    Circuit Court Judge (Group 9) - Ron Alvarez
●    Circuit Court Judge (Group 26) - James L. Martz
●    County Court Judge (Group 4) - Peter M. Evans
●    County Court Judge (Group 6) - Edward A. Garrison

Congratulations to all of these great public officials!

Several of our endorsed candidates face challengers in the general election on November 6, 2012.  They include:

●    President - Barack Obama
●    U.S. Congress District 18 - Patrick Murphy
●    U.S. Congress District 20 - Alcee Hastings
●    U.S. Congress District 21 - Ted Deutch
●    U.S. Congress District 22 - Lois Frankel
●    State House of Representatives (District 81) - Kevin Rader
●    State House of Representatives (District 86) - Mark S. Pafford
●    State House of Representatives (District 90) - Lori B. Berman
●    State House of Representatives (District 91) - Irving "Irv" Slosberg
●    State Attorney - Dave Aronberg
●    County Commissioner (District 1) - David J. Levy
●    County Commissioner (District 3) - Rochelle (Shelley) M. Van
●    County Commission (District 5) - Mary Lou Berger

In addition, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance has endorsed the retention of three Justices on the Florida Supreme Court: 

●    Justice  R. Fred Lewis
●    Justice Barbara J. Parents
●    Justice Peggy Quince

The Council is also urging our supporters to vote “NO” on all eleven proposed Constitutional Amendments appearing on the November ballot.

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance will be interviewing additional candidates for the Florida Legislature who will be on the November ballot and we will inform you of any endorsements via e-mail, our website, our blog, and of course, our continuous e-mail blasts!

Florida made history on August 14, 2012 with the election of an openly gay candidate, Democrat David Richardson of Miami Beach to the Florida House of Representatives! 

In November, four other gay men have the opportunity to join him in Tallahassee: Democrats, Joe Saunders of Orange County, John Alvarez of Brevard County and Ian Whitney of Key West, and Republican Scott Herman of Wilton Manors

The November 6 election is exceptionally important and as always, your votes will make a difference in changing the laws and policies which effect our lives.

On July 21st, Palm Beach County Human Rights Council supporters joined elected officials and  candidates (who are also PBCHRC supporters) at our Summer Soirée at the Old Guard Society of Palm Beach.  Once again, longtime PBCHRC supporter Scott Kent produced the event, which was our most successful fundraiser in the past two dozen years. 

Thanks go out to Scott Velozo for his graphic design, Cal Miller & Associates their assistance with publicity, as well as to interior designer Michael Powers and his partner Scott for their amazing work transforming the club rooms into a beach party. 

Special thanks go out to Sandy James Fine Foods, Echo and The Sugar Monkey for the wonderful hors d'ouvres , sushi and desserts.

The Summer Soirée was entirely underwritten thanks to the tireless efforts of Dan Hall, the Council’s Treasurer. For more than twenty years, Dan has worked tirelessly to ensure the  funding is in place to enable the Council to move forward with our initiatives.  Dan’s efforts are greatly appreciated by the Board of Directors.

To our many event underwriters and sponsors, our vendors and volunteers, and most importantly, our supporters, thank you for making the 2012 Summer Soirée a great success!

Last Spring , the School Board of Palm Beach County created a 24 member District Diversity and Equity Committee which includes representatives from both the Council and Compass.  The Council is proud to be represented by Mark Rutherford, a West Palm Beach psychotherapist.   Mark, his partner of 21 years Tom Davis, and Moms Amber and Mimi all co-parent the family’s two children.  Their 16 year old son Cris and their 12 year old daughter Sofia attend public school in Palm Beach County.

The Council is pleased to roll out our new website at pbchrc.org.  Unlike the old website, our new website is accessible on Apple devices and has many new features. We hope you like the new look.  Thanks go out to our long-term webmaster, Joseph Abreau, who generously donated his services in creating our new website.

At the 2012  Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Florida is represented by 40 LGBT activists (including me!).  As always, this opportunity has allowed us to strategize with LGBT activists from across the United States.  As a result, we have come away with new ideas for initiatives to benefit Palm Beach County’s LGBT community.  

PBCHRC welcomes J.P. Sasser, the openly gay Mayor of Pahokee to our Board of Directors.  His addition to our Board will help tremendously as help educate local public officials on the need to provide equal treatment and benefits to LGBT Floridians and our families.  JP replaces West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorney Michael Bakst, who stepped down this summer after serving over a decade on the Council’s Board of Directors.  We thank Michael for his years of dedicated service to our organization.

Members of the Council’s all volunteer Board of Directors are currently:

●    in the early stages of work on LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies and domestic partnership benefits in both Greenacres City and Boca Raton,

●    working with Clerk and Comptroller Sharon Bock and several County Commissioners on revisions to the County’s Domestic Partnership Ordinance, and

●    developing a training program for the judges serving in Palm Beach County, assisting them in  dealing more effectively with members of the LGBT community.

As you can see, so much work remains to be done, and we greatly appreciate your support in our endeavors.

Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has worked diligently on behalf of the LGBT community.  Rest assured we will continue to do so in 2012 – and beyond.

Rand Hoch,
President and Founder

This paid political advertisement, which is independent of any candidate or committee, is produced, sponsored and paid for by the The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance.