Saturday, February 10, 2024

President's Message - February 2024

Founded in 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) is Florida’s oldest, independent, non-partisan, political organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. We promote equality through education, advocacy, direct action, impact litigation and community outreach.

Over the past 36 years, our efforts have been responsible for the enactment of more than 150 laws and policies providing equal rights, protections and benefits for the LGBTQ+ community. For a list of the laws and policies enacted as the result of PBCHRC’s efforts, click here and select "Laws & Policies."

Frankly, back in the 1980s, I optimistically believed there would no longer be a need for our organization in the 21st century. I assumed that by now, our community would be protected by federal civil rights laws. However, despite the fact that bills have been introduced in Congress to protect our community since 1974, fifty years later, the Civil Rights Act has yet to be amended to provide statutory protection for LGBTQ+ Americans

To make matters worse, here in Florida, the LGBTQ+ community continues to be targeted by Governor DeSantis, the Republican controlled state legislature, the courts, and much of the media. Progress we have made over the past decades continue to be rolled back. Students, families with LGBTQ+ members, and especially transgender people are bearing the brunt of the efforts to ensure that the progress we have made is reversed.

So, PBCHRC continues to concentrate on Palm Beach County and our local municipalities. Our work never stops. 


The success PBCHRC has had in enacting so many pro-LGBTQ+ laws and policies is directly related to our community’s consistent participation in electoral politics.

.Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance (PBCHRCVA) members — all volunteers — have conducted more than 1,000 face-to-face endorsement interviews — and close to 100 interviews via Zoom and phone — of candidates seeking public office. We have done this to educate public officials and candidates, make endorsements, and take action to elect people who will take steps to change laws and policies to provide equal rights, protections and benefits for the LGBTQ+ community.

Municipal elections will be held throughout Palm Beach County on Tuesday, March19. If you know any LGBTQ+ supportive Palm Beach County residents who are not yet registered to vote, the deadline to register to vote in the March 19 elections is Monday, February 20. For more information about registering to vote, go to:,

In an effort to suppress the vote, the Florida Legislature has enacted laws which cause Vote-by-Mail requests to expire at the end of the year in which a General Election is held. So, if you have not taken action, your vote-by-mail ballot request may have expired. To continue voting by mail, you may need to complete a new Vote-by -Mail ballot request. You may do this online easily at

In the alternative, you may request to vote-by-mail.

The vote-by-mail request must include your driver's license/Florida State ID number OR the last 4 digits of your social security number, whichever you provided when you registered to vote. (If you do not remember which you used, PBCHRC recommends you provide both numbers to ensure your vote by mail application can be processed.)

This year, PBCHRC set aside five nights to interview more than two dozen elected officials and candidates for public office in the municipal elections in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Lake Worth Beach, North Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Wellington, and West Palm Beach. To date, we have made endorsements in the following races::

Boca Raton City Council (Seat C) - Yvette Drucker

Boca Raton City Council (Seat D) - Andrew Thomson

Delray Beach Mayor - Ryan Boylston

Delray Beach City Commission (Seat 1) - James Chard

Delray Beach City Commission (Seat 3) - Nicholas Coppola

Greenacres Mayor - Charles “Chuck” Shaw

Greenacres City Council (Dist. 1) - John Tharp

Greenacres City Council (Dist. 5) - Paula Bousquet

Lake Worth Beach Mayor - Betty Resch

Lake Worth Beach City Commission (Dist. 1) - Sarah Malega

Lake Worth Beach City Commission (Dist. 3) - Kim Stokes

Palm Beach Town Council (Group 3) - John David Corey

Riviera Beach City Council (Dist. 2) - Kashamba Miller-Anderson

Riviera Beach City Council (Dist. 4) - Julie Botel

Royal Palm Beach Mayor - Fred Pinto

Wellington Mayor - Michael Napoleone

Wellington Village Council (Seat 1) - Shelly Albright

Wellington Village Council (Seat 4) - CO-ENDORSEMENT


Marcella Montesinos, Bob Margolis OR John "Jay" Webber 

West Palm Beach City Commissioner - Christina Lambert

For a list of more than 80 elected officials who were endorsed by PBCHRCVA and who currently hold office, go to:

                           PBCHRC CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

The PBCHRC Charitable Foundation is accepting applications for the 2024 PBCHRC Social Justice Awards – $2,500 college scholarships available to graduating LGBTQ+ high school seniors from Palm Beach County.

For further information concerning the Social Justice awards, click here.

For an application for the 2024 PBCHRC Social Justice Award scholarship, click here.

Applications are due no later than 11:59 p.m. on March 29, 2024. For further information, contact Jasmin Lewis at

To review the biographies of the 20 Social Justice Award recipients and to learn more about the PBCHRC Charitable Foundation, click here:

The PBCHRC Charitable Foundation also provides need-based scholarships to LGBTQ+ college students through the Norman L. Stern and August R. Venezio Scholarships.

In addition, the Charitable Foundation has established the W. Trent Steele Legal Advocacy Award in recognition of Trent’s decades of pro bono work on behalf of PBCHRC as well as his work as a PBCHRC Board Member. The scholarship is available to LGBTQ+ and allied second and third year law students with ties to Palm Beach County. Please contact for further information.

Over the past twelve months, PBCHRC and the Charitable Foundation have made significant contributions to:

  • 451 Avengers - a local activist organization challenging library book bans in Palm Beach County,
  • ACLU of Florida Foundation, which works to create a Florida free of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, 
  • First Amendment Foundation, which watched over a legislative program to review, and reenact if warranted, each of the hundreds of exemptions to Florida's public records law, 
  • Lambda Legal, a national legal organization representing LGBTQ+ people and everyone living with HIV in court – and in the court of public opinion, 
  • MAP (the Movement Advancement Project), a nonprofit think tank working to create a thriving, inclusive, and equitable America where all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life,
  • PRISM, which works to expand access to LGBTQ+-inclusive education and sexual health resources for youth in South Florida,
  • Stonewall National Museum & Archives, which presents exhibitions on LGBTQI themes and public programs in South Florida and across the United States, and, 
  • Vita Nova, which is a safe bridge to independence for former foster care, LGBTQ+ and other homeless local youth through supportive housing, education, employment and life. 

                                             2024 WINTER FÊTE

On Saturday, January 13, 2024, more than 200 PBCHRC supporters partied the night away gathered at a private lakeside estate in Boca Raton for our annual Winter Fête. The event is held annually on the Saturday night of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday weekend to celebrate the anniversary of Florida’s oldest gay rights law currently in effect which was enacted by the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners in January 1990.

Thanks to Sarah and Melissa Hassan, the hosts who underwrote our wonderful evening, our 2024 Winter Fête was our most successful fundraising event since our organization was founded in 1988.

ECP event Group and SandyJames Fine Food & Productions created a magical evening. Heavenly winged angels, clad in white greeted guests, who enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres and acrobatic performances lakeside throughout the evening. As always, Echo Palm Beach donated sushi boats and Pernod Ricard donated Absolut Vodka and Mumm Napa Brut Prestige. First time sponsors Jill Sasso, Roe Manghisi and The Wine Wave donated the wines served throughout the evening.

Proceeds from the event fund a variety of PBCHRC’s initiatives, including the presentation of the organization’s Public Service Awards, which are scholarships given annually to college-bound high school seniors from throughout Palm Beach County who have demonstrated an interest in advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community.

Thanks go out to the Members of the 2024 Winter Fête Host Committee:


.Clerk of the Court Joe Abruzzo 

Altima Palm Beach

Steve Avila

School Board Member Alexandria Ayala and

Delray Beach City Commissioner Rob Long

State Senator Lori Berman

Paul Bernabeo and David Cohen

County Commissioner Mack Bernard and Shawn Bernard

James Berwind and Kevin Clark

Terry Bowie and William Feldkamp

Delray Beach City Commissioners Ryan Boylston

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw

School Board Member Karen Brill

Pamela Buchmeyer and Shellie Crandall

Castle Wealth Management

Nancy Chanin

Jim Chard

Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick

Gil Cohen and Paul Gervais

Compass LGBTQ+ Community Center

John David Corey and Miguel Rosales

Cornerstone Solutions

Alexcia Cox

David Crespo and Nicholas Coppola

David Daucanski and Bradley Gache

Joseph Paul Davis

Tennille DeCoste

Boca Raton City Council Member Yvette Drucker

ECP Event Rentals and Design

Daniel Eisinger

Peter Emmerich

Greenacres Mayor Joel Flores

Congressman Mark Foley and Ryan Ruark

West Palm Beach City Commissioner Christy Fox

Delray Beach City Commissioner Adam Frankel

Congresswoman Lois Frankel

Constitutional Tax Collector Anne Gannon

Oscar Garza

Charles and Michael Freeman-Grattendick

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Palm Beach County

Judge Rand Hoch (ret.)

Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks

Elaine Johnson James

West Palm Beach Mayor Keith Jameds and Lorna James

Bill Jennings and Richard Triggs

Michael Judd and Ben Small

Richard Katzenberg and John Betz

Boynton Beach City Commissioner Aimee Kelly

Christina and Monte Lambert

Gregg Lerman

Supervisor of Elections Wendy Link

Rachelle and Jeffrey Litt

Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Sarah Malega and Dawn Malega

Joseph Marino, Jr. and Anthony Sibilia

Mimi May

David Mooney and Philip Bianco

Wellington City Council Member Michael Napoleone

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP

West Palm Beach City Commissioner Joe Peduzzi and Erin Peduzzi

Greg and Jessica Ransom

Lake Worth Beach Mayor Betty Resch

H.G. Roosters

Paula Ryan and Clifford Hertz

Palm Beach County Mayor Maria Sachs

SandyJames Fine Food & Productions

Jill Sasso & Roe Manghisi

Arthur Schofield

Jeff Sophir and Jim Gielda

Eric Telchin and Logan Nolting

Andy Thomson

Don Todorich

Scott Velozo and Stephen Mooney

State Representative Katherine Waldron

West Palm Beach City Commissioner Cathleen Ward

West Palm Beach City Commissioner Shalonda Warren

A.J. Wasson and Randy Christensen

Dr. Donald Watren and Anthony Jaggi 

Palm Beach County Commissioner Gregg Weiss and Rebecca Weiss

Charles Williams

                                                           CURRENT INITIATIVES

PBCHRC is currently working to persuade: 

  • The local courts, prosecutors and public defenders to utilize the appropriate pronouns when addressing trans people with business before the courts, 
  • The Health Care District of Palm Beach County to provide trans-specific healthcare services to indigent patients, and 
  • 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. 

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. 

Judge Rand Hoch (retired), 

President and Founder