Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Gay Polo 2017!

Reserve Your Tailgate Now  
at the
International Polo Club Palm Beach
Wellington, Florida  
Every year, the effort and creativity that goes into creating tailgate spaces at the International Gay Polo Tournament becomes more astounding. Over the years, all of the tailgate spaces have sold out, so those of you who are interested in showing their competitive spirit during the tournament and looking to lock in their spaces at this year's event are encouraged to purchase now.

Tailgate spaces are $395 and include 6 general admission tickets, a 10×10 tent and one designated parking spot. (Double, Triple and Quadruple tailgate spaces are also available). You may decorate your tailgate any way you like - and you are encouraged to get creative! Although all innovative ideas are welcome, please do not bring any extra large vehicles (such as a car, boat, big trailer, etc.) as space is limited. If you have any questions, please call (561) 753-3389.

This year's tailgate competition, which will take place on Saturday, April 8, 2017, promises to be the biggest, most impressive and most creative.

To purchase a Tailgate Package, click here
The Cherry Knoll Farm VIP tent is positioned on the mid-field line and is the perfect alternative to a tailgate. A VIP table for six (6) includes gourmet food and beverages, table side service, an open bar and VIP parking is available for $1,500. Individual VIP tickets are available for $250.

The Gay Polo Tournament and Tailgate Competition
will be held on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at:
International Polo Club Palm Beach
Isla Carroll Field West
3667 120th Avenue South
 Wellington, Florida
Gates open at Noon. (Tailgaters can arrive at 10 a.m. to set up.)
  The first polo match is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. 
and tournament finals begin at 3:00 p.m.
General Admission is $30
General parking is $10 per vehicle
VIP parking is $25 per vehicle

To purchase General Admission tickets,
click here

To purchase parking passes, click here

The GPL Polotini Party
, April 7, 2017
This year, the GPL Polotini Party will be held at a new location:
1900 Aero Club Dr, Wellington

Join us at this fabulous cocktail party, for hors d'oeuvres
and, of course, an open bar. $150 per person.

To purchase Polotini tickets, click here 
Sunday Brunch
Sunday, April 9, 2017

Enjoy lavish brunch, open bar & while watching
the 113th U.S. Open Polo Championship®
The Mallet Grille at International Polo Club Palm Beach
3667 120th Ave South,Wellington.

Brunch starts at 1:00 p.m. and the polo match begins at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $150.
To purchase brunch tickets, click here. 
For further information about Gay Polo Week,  
About the Gay Polo League 
The Gay Polo League ("GPL") is a community that shares a love for adventure, fun and the challenging sport of polo. It is committed to providing members with an enjoyable, supportive and competitive experience. GPL represents a wide range of ages, backgrounds and skill levels. GPL trains and competes in mainstream matches and events while sharing enthusiasm for the sport, to change perceptions about our community.    


March 15, 2017

In light of the appointments and statements made by the Trump-Pence administration, it appears protecting the rights of LGBTQ Americans is not a priority. The Republican-led Congress appears to be willing to continue to ignore pro-LGBTQ legislation. 

Florida Governor Rick Scott has refused to respond to PBCHRC's latest request to amend his executive order on state employment and government contracting to include "sexual orientation" and "gender or identity expression." Neither Governor Scott nor the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature appear to have made our issues a priority. 

It is likely that the decade-long efforts to amend the Florida Civil Rights Act and Florida's Fair Housing Act to include "sexual orientation" and "gender or identity expression" will once again fall on deaf ears.  Therefore, now, more than ever, local advocacy is the most effective way to achieve progress for the LGBTQ community. 

Since 1988, volunteers for the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance (PBCHRCVA) have interviewed hundreds of candidates for public office. We have done this to educate candidates and public officials, and select candidates for endorsements.  PBCHRCVA 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

Over the past several months, PBCHRCVA has reviewed the records of incumbent office holders throughout the county and has interviewed numerous candidates seeking election to municipal offices. Much of the Council's ability to screen, interview and endorse candidates rests on the shoulders of Rae Franks, who has served as the Council's Secretary since the early-1990s. The entire Board of Directors is grateful to the time and energy Rae has spent over the past several months - and over many, many years - contacting candidates, scheduling interviews, and asking the questions that help us make difficult endorsement choices.

Over the years, PBCHRCVA has worked diligently to identify LGBTQ-supportive residents and get them registered to vote. In the past few weeks, we conducted an extensive Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) campaign in several municipalities. We encouraged our supporters to get their LGBTQ-friendly family, co-workers and friends to vote-by-mail or to get to the polls on Tuesday to vote for candidates endorsed by PBCHRCVA.

Once again, LGBTQ voters throughout Palm Beach County turned out in record numbers. Together with our allies throughout the County, we helped elect (or re-elect) the following municipal officials to hold office in 2017:
  • Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie
  • Boca Raton City Council Member Scott Singer
  • Boynton Beach City Commissioner Joe Casello
  • Greenacres City Councilwoman Lisa Rivera
  • Greenacres City Councilwoman Paula Bousquet
  • Lake Worth City Commissioner  Herman Robinson
  • Palm Beach Town Councilwoman Danielle Hickox Moore
  • Palm Beach Gardens City Councilman Mark Marciano
  • Palm Beach Gardens City Councilman Matthew Lane
Congratulations to all of the elected officials. Rest assured that PBCHRC will be calling on them to take steps to enact laws and policies to provide equal protection, treatment and benefits for the local LGBTQ community.

Since no candidate received more than 50% of the votes in the March 14 municipal election, runoff election will take place on March 28.  PBCHRCVA  has endorsed the following candidates in the runoff elections:
  • Boynton Beach City Commissioner Mack McCray
  • Palm Beach Gardens City Councilman Joseph Russo
Thanks to your support of our efforts, throughout Palm Beach County it is illegal to discriminate against LGBT people with regard to employment, housing and public accommodation. In fact, there are now 117 local ordinances, resolutions, collective bargaining agreements and policies which provide Palm Beach County's LGBTQ  residents and visitors equal rights, protections and benefits.  A complete list can be found by going to and clicking on "Laws & Policies".

PBCHRC's top priority for 2017 is to ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors (a discredited method of counseling based on the erroneous assumption that LGBTQ identities are mental disorders that can be cured through aversion treatment) throughout Palm Beach County.

Conversion therapy has long been rejected by our nation's leading medical and mental health organizations.  Across the nation, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, the District of Columbia, Cincinnati, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Toledo have all banned the practice of conversion therapy on minors by licensed professionals. In Florida, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Miami, Wilton Manors, Miami Beach, Bay Harbor Islands, El Portal, Key West and North Bay Village have enacted conversion therapy bans. The Tampa City Council is also likely to enact a similar ban in upcoming weeks.

PBCHRC Board Member Trent Steele and I have been coordinating the Trent photo local efforts. We have partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center to work on banning conversion therapy on minors throughout Palm Beach County. As a result of our collaborative efforts, bans on conversion therapy on minors have already been enacted - unanimously - by city commissions in West Palm Beach, Lake Worth and Boynton Beach. Earlier this month, the Riviera Beach City Council voted unanimously on First Reading to ban conversion therapy. A final reading will he held in the upcoming weeks.  In Delray Beach, city staff is working on a similar ordinance and it is our hope that before the end of April, conversion therapy will be prohibited in that city as well.

In drafting our model conversion therapy ban ordinance, PBCHRC relied heavily on the work done by a longtime PBCHRC ally - Robert Rosenwald, First Assistant City Attorney for Miami Beach. Rob got the ball rolling last year by drafting - and persuading the Miami Beach City Commission to enact - the first conversion therapy ban in Florida. PBCHRC has worked with Rob for more than a decade, both at the City of Miami Beach and at the ACLU of Florida, where Rob served as director of the organization's LGBTQ Advocacy Project. No doubt we will rely on his insight, experience and talent in the years to come, as we move forward with other local LGBTQ-related initiatives.

Assistant West Palm Beach City Attorney Zoë Panarites also has been instrumental in our efforts and successes. Utilizing the draft Trent and I provided, she strengthened the ordinance, which was enacted in West Palm Beach. Zoë's ordinance has been used as the model for all of other municipalities throughout Palm Beach County, as well as for the City of Tampa.

PBCHRC has also been working closely with our Miami-Dade County counterpart, SAVE, which is conducting a similarly successful campaign to ban conversion therapy on minors throughout Miami-Dade County. As the result of the efforts of SAVE, conversion therapy bans have been enacted in Miami Beach, Wilton Manors, Miami, El Portal, Bay Harbor Islands and North Bay Village.

Special thanks go out to local pyschologist and sex therapist Rachel Needle, whose persuasive presentations at public hearings have been instrumental in securing the unanimous passage of our conversion therapy bans in West Palm Beach, Lake Worth. Boynton Beach and Riveiera Beach. PBCHRC will be eternally grateful for Rachel's volunteer work on behalf of LGBTQ youth.
Thanks also go out to Lake Worth City Commissioner Andy Amoroso for persuasively addressing the Palm Beach County League of Cities concerning the need to enact local ordinances banning conversion therapy.  As Vice Chair of the National League of Cities LGBT Officials Board, Andy is also taking this message concerning conversion therapy bans nationwide.
PBCHRC will work to enact similar bans on conversion therapy in the twelve most populated municipalities in Palm Beach County. Our ultimate goal is to persuade the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners to make our county the first in Florida to enact a countywide ban protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy.


PBCHRC is now taking applications for the 2017 Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards. The scholarships will be awarded to Palm Beach County high school seniors who have demonstrated an interest in advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community. Applications must be received by midnight April 7, 2017. To apply, please use this link:


As the result of a very generous contribution from a longtime supporter, PBCHRC will be the presenting sponsor of the 8th Annual International Gay Polo Tournament on Saturday, April 8. The event will take place at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington.

PBCHRC hopes that you and your friends will stop by our tailgate space for hors d'oeuvres presented by Ken Keffer Catering, cocktails and camaraderie.  Our refreshments are sponsored by two longtime PBCHRC benefactors -  REALTOR Don Todorich of the Corcoran Group, and Joseph Pubillones Interiors.  We will also be holding a drawing for a painting donated to PBCHRC by local artist Adam Revsen. 

On Friday, April 7, PBCHRC supporters will join the Gay Polo League for this year's Polotini Party at a new location - The Wanderers Club in Wellington. This is a party not to be missed.

For tickets to the events, go to

In February, The Women's March Florida held a 4,000 person march from Trump Plaza in West Palm Beach to Mar-a-Lago, the Winter White House in Palm Beach. The local LGBTQ group, led by PBCHRC Board Member Meredith Ockman invites PBCHRC supporters and allies to be a part of the Women's March Florida contingent at the PrideFest Parade in downtown Lake Worth on Sunday, March 26, 2017. Line-up for the parade begins at 10:00 - 10:30 a.m. on Lucerne Street. For further information, contact Meredith at

The 2018 Winter Fête will be held on Saturday, January 13, 2018 at Tarpon Cove, the Palm Beach home of James Berwind and Kevin Clark.  Watch for details in the months to come! 

As mentioned above, on February 7, PBCHRC sent a third letter to Governor Rick Scott requesting him to update his Executive Order on "Reaffirming Commitment to Diversity in Government" to specifically include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression" as protected classes. However, once again, the request appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

PBCHRC has recently persuaded Palm Beach County to update the definition of "sexual orientation" in the County's Code of Ordinances.  It was first defined back in 1990, as "male or female homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality, by preference or practice".  That definition was widely used throughout the 1980s and 1990s. For obvious reasons, PBCHRC objected to use of the word "preference." The County Attorney has agreed to recommend that the definition be updated to read "heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or asexuality, whether actual or perceived."

Finally, PBCHRC is now working with Palm Beach County's newest municipality, the City of Westlake, on an LGBT-inclusive Civil Rights Ordinance.

Since 1988, 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 posted on our progress!
Judge Rand Hoch (retired),
President and Founder  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Riviera Beach to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors

(Riviera Beach, Florida) At tonight's meeting, the Riviera Beach City Council unanimously voted on first reading to prohibit licensed mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy on minors within city limits.

Conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, or sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), 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.

The action was taken at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), the county's most effective civil rights organization. Over the past 29 years, the independent non-profit organization has succeeded in having local public officials enact 117 laws and policies providing equal rights, benefits and protection for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ)  community.

To date, PBCHRC has been responsible for the enactment of similar conversion therapy bans in West Palm Beach, Lake Worth and Boynton Beach.

Addressing the City Council, PBCHRC Board Member Hutch Floyd focused on the need to protect children from practitioners of conversion therapy.

"Conversion therapy is usually forced on minors by parents who find it impossible to accept the fact that their children identify as gay or lesbian," said  Floyd. "This so-called 'treatment' is extremely harmful."

PBCHRC is partnering with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Both organizations have been successful in their efforts to protect minors from being subjected to the harms caused by conversion therapy.

"Conversion therapy is an extremely dangerous and fraudulent practice that claims to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity," said Scott McCoy, senior policy counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center. "This bogus practice is premised on the lie that LGBTQ individuals have a 'condition' that needs to be cured. This evening, the West Palm Beach city commission took a step in the right direction by approving this ordinance to ban this harmful practice on minors. The commission has sent a message to LGBTQ youth: 'You are perfect the way you are and do not need to be 'fixed.'"

Dr. Rachel Needle, a licensed psychologist who practices in Palm Beach County, has explained that the practice of conversion therapy is based on two false premises.

"First, it is based on the falsehood that being gay, lesbian or transgender is a mental disorder or defect that needs to be cured, " said Needle.  "And secondly, it is based on the presumption that being LGBTQ is something that can actually be changed through therapy."

Needle, who is also an adjunct professor at Nova Southeastern University, noted that the potential risks of conversion therapy on children include shame, guilt, depression, decreased self-esteem, increased self-hatred, feelings of anger and betrayal, loss of friends, social withdrawal, problems in sexual and emotional intimacy, hostility and blame towards parents, high risk behaviors, confusion, self-harm, substance abuse and suicidal ideation.

"Any ethical mental health practitioner should not attempt to cure or repair gender identity or sexual orientation through these scientifically invalid techniques," Needle stated.  "Attempting to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity can have a devastating impact on a minor."

Riviera Beach City Councilwomen Dawn Pardo and Tonya Davis-Johnson brought the ordinance forward.

"As an elected official, it is a key part of my job to take steps to protect children in Riviera Beach from abuse," said Davis-Johnson. "PBCHRC presented numerous scientific studies to the City Council and the experts all agree that conversion therapy is causes extreme emotional trauma to LGBT youth."

"Moreover, it is a a scam," added Johnson.  "Parents in Riviera Beach should not be duped into spending their hard-earned money on so-called conversion therapy."

The discredited practice of conversion therapy has long been rejected by virtually all of our nation's mainstream medical and mental health organizations, according to Rand Hoch, PBCHRC's President and Founder. "Instilling self-hatred in children is not therapy," Hoch said.

Nearly every major medical and psychological association in the country has come out in opposition to conversion therapy. These include the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American College of Physicians, the American Counseling Association, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American School Health Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the Pan American Health Organization, the Regional Office of the World Health Organization and the World Psychiatric Association.

"The American Psychological Association has linked conversion therapy to depression, substance abuse and even suicide, and these risks are particularly acute for youth," said Carolyn Reyes, Youth Policy Counsel and Coordinator of NCLR's BornPerfect Campaign to end conversion therapy  "We applaud the efforts by the Commission to ensure that the children of West Palm Beach County are protected from these harms, and that their families aren't duped by trusted professionals to whom they turn for support during a vulnerable time."

In addition, conversion therapy has been soundly rejected by the American Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Education Association and the School Social Work Association of America.

Last May, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a comprehensive report entitled "Quacks: 'Conversion Therapists,' the Anti-LGBT Right, and the Demonization of Homosexuality." (

Across the nation, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, the District of Columbia, Cincinnati, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Toledo have already enacted laws to prevent licensed mental health providers from offering conversion therapy to minors.

In Florida, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Miami, Wilton Manors, Miami Beach, Bay Harbor Islands, El Portal and Key West have enacted conversion therapy bans. The Tampa City Council is in the process of considering a similar ban at its meeting on March 2.

The Riviera Beach ban on conversion therapy - and all of the similar bans enacted to date - applies only to state-licensed therapists. Unlicensed therapists, such as those associated with faith-based groups, retain their religious freedom to engage in such work. Additionally, adults remain free to seek out conversion therapy.

Although there have been several court challenges to the constitutionality of banning conversion therapy, all have failed. On three occasions, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear challenges to the constitutionality laws banning conversion therapy for minors.

U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act to empower the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on conversion therapy. Specifically, the law would make sexual orientation change efforts illegal under the Federal Trade Commission Act, and classify advertising these services or providing them in exchange for monetary compensation as fraudulent, unfair, and deceptive. The bill would also explicitly clarify that the Federal Trade Commission has the duty to enforce this provision and would further provide state attorneys general the authority to enforce it in federal court.

In addition, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Human Rights Campaign (a Washington, DC-based LGBTQ rights organization which is not affiliated with PBCHRC) filed a federal consumer fraud complaint with the Federal Trade Commission seeking to ban conversion therapy nationwide.

Last year, State Senator Jeff Clemens (D-Atlantis) introduced a bill to prohibit conversion therapy statewide (S. 258).  However, the Senate refused to take action on the bill. Clemens intends to reintroduce his bill in the current legislative session.

"Hopefully, legislative leaders in Tallahassee will schedule a hearing on Senator Clemens' bill this year," said Councilwoman Davis-Johnson..  "However, until a statewide ban on conversion therapy is enacted, we are taking going to do all we can to protect LGBT youth here in Riviera Beach,"

 For a copy of the ordinance, click here.