First and foremost, I hope you are safe and well, riding out the storm of the pandemic as best as you can. With a lot of free time on our hands these past few months, the members of the Board of Directors of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council have been undertaking on several new initiatives, which we are pleased to report.
PBCHRC VOTERS ALLIANCE
Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance (PBCHRCVA) has interviewed close to 1,000 candidates for public office, made endorsements in hundreds of races, registered thousands of new voters, and made sure LGBTQ and allied residents have voted. As a result, 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.
This year, PBCHRCVA continued to work diligently to identify LGBTQ-supportive residents and get them registered to vote. Record numbers of our supporters will be voting this year. Thanks go out to everyone who has helped us in this initiative.
While PBCHRCVA always has conducted Vote-By-Mail campaigns, this year we redoubled our efforts because of the pandemic. We want our supporters to vote, but we do not want anyone to take any unnecessary risks. Now, more than ever, we want you to vote by mail. (In Palm Beach County, return postage for your ballot is prepaid!)
To sign up for Vote-By-Mail in Palm Beach County, please, click on the link pbcelections.org/Voters/Vote-By-Mail
Voting for the August 20 Primary Elections is now underway!
For those of you who insist on voting in person, PBCHRC recommends early voting, which runs from Monday, August 3, 2020, through Sunday, August 16, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. For more information about early voting please use this link: pbcelections.org/Voters/Early-Voting
In mid-July, PBCHRCVA completed our endorsement interviews. For more than 30 years, our candidates' interviews were conducted face-to-face. In April, we switched to Zoom.
Our endorsements are based on how office holders have voted on LGBTQ issues and how all candidates have supported the LGBTQ community.
Our goal is to elect public officials who will enact laws and policies that will benefit our community. Thanks to our efforts, it has long been illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ people with regard to employment, housing and public accommodations throughout Palm Beach County. Public school students throughout Palm Beach County are protected from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Lesbian and gay couples throughout Palm Beach County, regardless of whether they are married, are entitled to many of the same benefits as other families. Moreover, conversion therapy for minors is prohibited throughout Palm Beach County. In fact, there are now more than 140 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 on the "Our Impact" (pbchrc.org/our-impact) on our website - PBCHRC.org.
To date, we have made the following endorsements for 2020.
U.S. Congress (Dist. 18)
U.S. Congress (Dist. 20)
U.S. Congress (Dist. 21)
U.S. Congress (Dist. 22) Ted Deutch
Florida Senate (Dist. 25)
Florida Senate (Dist. 29)
Florida Senate (Dist. 31)
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 81)
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 85)
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 86)
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 87)
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 88)
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 89) James Bonfiglio
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 90)
Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 91)
Constitutional Tax Collector
Supervisor of Election
Wendy Sartory Link
Palm Beach County Commission (Dist. 1)
Palm Beach County Commission (Dist. 3)
Palm Beach County Commission (Dist. 5)
Palm Beach County Commission (Dist. 7)
School Board (Dist. 1)
School Board (Dist 2)
School Board (Dist. 5)
Frank Barbieri, Jr.
Port Commission (Group 1)
Port Commission (Group 2)
Port Commission (Group 3)
Clarence Williams, III
Circuit Court Judge (Group 16)
Jeffrey Dana Gillen
Circuit Court Judge (Group 30)
You may only vote for one of the following:
Jamie Goodman, Adam Myron, OR Caryn Siperstein
County Court Judge (Group 12)
Debra Moses Stephens
Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation (Group 4)
Following the August 18 Primary elections, additional endorsements may be made. For a complete list of the candidates endorsed by the PBCHRC Voters Alliance - including those who have already been elected this year - can be found by clicking on the Voters Alliance" tab on the PBCHRC website. (pbchrc.org/voters-alliance).
Whether you vote by mail, vote early, or cast your ballot on August 18, PBCHRC is counting on you to participate in the upcoming primary election. We trust that as the result of your efforts, members of Palm Beach County's LGBTQ community and our allies will vote in record numbers.
"PALM BEACH COUNTY: YOU'RE WELCOME!" CAMPAIGN
Although Florida has more than 400 municipalities, only 30 have ever enacted LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights ordinances. Therefore, 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, municipal civil rights ordinances have been enacted in Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Lake Worth Beach, Ocean Ridge, West Palm Beach, and Wellington.
On June 11, the City of Westlake became the first municipality in Florida to enact a civil rights ordinance virtually. Thanks go out to Westlake Vice Mayor Katrina Long-Robinson for taking the lead on the initiative. The ordinance was enacted by unanimous vote.
Thanks to the efforts of Councilmember Darryl Aubrey, a civil rights ordinance was passed unanimously on First Reading in the Village of North Palm Beach. The ordinance will take effect immediately after Final Reading on August 13.
On that same date, the Haverhill Town Council hopefully will hold First Reading on a civil rights ordinance. Openly gay Town Council Member Ray Carancy is leading the effort in Haverhill. Later in August, the Town of Juno Beach is expected to consider their civil rights ordinance.
PBCHRC also has asked the cities of Palm Beach Gardens and Riviera Beach, the Town Lake Park, and the Village of Palm Springs to consider enacting LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights ordinances before year's end.
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. She succeeds Carly Cass, who developed and has directed the Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards program since its inception.
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, has mentored several LGBTQ students.
In June, the Charitable Foundation awarded Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards to Park Vista Community High School graduate Endora Guillaume and Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts graduates Kyle Ahern and Theo Shusterman. Each received a $2,500 scholarship in recognition of their advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community.
On the date the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County Georgia, Congressman Mark Foley contributed $10,000 to the Charitable Foundation to fund the 2021 Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards. Mark's donation was made "in appreciation of the years of labor on legislative policy that has led to this day of fairness and equality - and for Dan Hall's incredible leadership in helming the treasury of PBCHRC for the past 30 years."
The PBCHRC Charitable Foundation Board of Directors thanks Congressman Foley for his continuing support of the Foundation's scholarship programs.
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 Novemner 16, 2020 in Jacksonville.
SUMMER SOIRÉE AND WINTER FÊTE
In 1990, PBCHRC held a "Lawn Party"at the home of David Miller and Ray Wakefield. Public officials attending the event included Congressman Harry Johnston, County Commissioner Carol Roberts and Lois Frankel, who at the time served in the Florida Legislature. Over the years, the event morphed into our biennial Summer Soirée -- an opportunity for PBCHRC supporters, public officials and candidates to socialize and schmooze.
Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, there will be no 2020 Summer Soirée. However, we still need to raise money to keep PBCHRC moving forward. So, we are optimistically working on plans to host our next Winter Fête - at a spacious outdoor location - on Saturday, January 23, 2021.
- Ellen Baker has been elected to the Board of the Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District
- PBCHRC Board Member Jasmin Lewis has been named named a 2021 Victory Fund Endowment Fellow and was elected a Delegate to the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
- PBCHRC Board Member G. Joseph Garcia has been elected chair of the PBCHRC Charitable Foundation.
- Boynton Beach City Commissioners unanimously voted to designate all single-occupancy restrooms in the newly opened City Hall Complex as "All Gender". Thanks go out to openly gay City Commissioner Ty Penserga, who brought PBCHRC's request for the "All Gender" restrooms before the City Commission.
In June, PBCHRC asked Palm Beach County Commissioners and West Palm Beach City Commissioners to amend their ordinances protecting women and minorities from discrimination by expanding coverage to employees working for small businesses - those with between five and 14 employees. On June 27, West Palm Beach City Commissioners unanimously voted on First Reading to do so. The amendment is set to take effect August 10, following Final Reading on the amendment. County Commissioner Gregg Weiss is leading the effort to amend the county law, which we expect to be done before year's end.
PBCHRC Board Members Jasmin Lewis and Tamara Singer continue their work 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.
Some of our other projects include persuading:
- the City of West Palm Beach to install at least one LGBTQ Pride rainbow crosswalk,
- 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 or expression" and ban conversion therapy statewide.
On a closing note, PBCHRC mourns the recent passing of Tom Gerrard, one of five openly LGBTQ people who served as mayor of a Palm Beach County municipality, Tom, a Republican, seved on the Manalapan Town Council and became Mayor in 2008. He was an advisor and a major donor for PBCHRC and many other LGBTQ-supportive organizations. I will always remember our 2009 trip to Tallahassee to meet with Republican legislators and key lobbyists about the LGBT-inclusive civil rights law introduced by then-state legislators Ted Deutch and Kelly Skidmore at the request of PBCHRC. There is also a great story on how he most effectively dealt with anti-gay neighbor. Ask me about it some time. Rest in Peace, Tom.
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.