MESSAGE FROM RAND HOCH, PRESIDENT & FOUNDER
August 19, 2014
What an incredible month this has been.
On August 5, Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Diana Lewis ruled that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, making her the fourth judge in Florida to reach this conclusion. (Last month, prior to the hearing on this case, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance endorsed her bid for re-election to the Circuit Court.)
Earlier that day, the Boynton Beach City Commission voted unanimously on PBCHRC’s request for it to have staff look into implementing domestic partnership benefits. Yesterday, they voted — again, unanimously — to implement domestic partnership benefits.
On August 18, the West Palm Beach City Commission approved an equal benefits ordinance to require city contractors to provide the same family benefits to employees’ same-sex spouses and (both same- and opposite-sex) domestic partners as the contractors offer to employees’ legally recognized (i.e. opposite-sex) spouses. Mayor Jeri Muoio introduced the ordinance, which
itself was based on a request PBCHRC first made to then-Mayor Lois Frankel back in 2007. The ordinance passed first reading on August 4 with Commissioners Keith James, Sylvia Moffett and Ike Robinson voting in favor of Mayor Muoio’s proposal. Commissioners Kimberly Mitchell and Shanon Materio spoke out – and voted against – the ordinance. However, when the equal benefits ordinance came up for final approval, the vote to approve it was unanimous.
The August 26 primary elections are less than a week away. PBCHRC and the PBCHRC Voters Alliance (PBCHRCVA) hope that our successes continue in the primary elections – and beyond.
Throughout the summer, the Voters Alliance has been engaged in voter identification, early voting and absentee
ballot campaigns. We are in the process of finalizing our get-out-the-vote campaign. Throughout our 26 year history, these efforts have resulted in record turnout by Palm Beach County’s LGBT voters and their allies. We hope to repeat
this success in 2014.
The Voters Alliance endorses candidates who support LGBT initiatives and privacy rights, based, in part, on:
The candidates on the August 26 ballots that have been endorsed by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance include:
Please note that not all of these candidates will appear on your ballot.
In addition, PBCHRCVA has endorsed the following candidates who will be on the November 4 ballot - but not on the August 26 ballot:
Following the primary elections, PBCHRCVA will continue to screen, interview and endorse additional candidates for the November 4 general election. To keep track of our endorsements as they are updated, please check our Endorsements page.
On August 9, more than 200 PBCHRC supporters – including more than 40 public officials and candidates — mingled and partied at our fabulous biennial Summer Soirée. This year’s event was held at Casa de Oro al Lago, the West Palm Beach home of our hosts Christopher Caneles and Steve Nesbitt. We are most thankful for Christopher and Steve’s generosity and hospitality. PBCHRC also thanks our event underwriters and sponsors: Echo, Christina's Catering, Congressman Mark Foley, Scott Velozo and Stephen Mooney, Rae Franks, Esquire, P.A., Joseph
Pubillones Interiors, Patrick Murphy for Congress, Sid Lesowitz and Peter Rogers, the Law Offices of W. Trent Steele, Wood Kinnard and Alberto Arias, Don Todorich of The Corcoran Group, and my firm, The Law and Mediation Offices of Rand Hoch, P.A.
Special thanks also go out to Scott Velozo for, once again, donating his time and graphic artistry to create the alluring event logo, invitations and advertising.
With the progress on marriage equality that is sweeping the nation, it now appears certain that marriage equality will reach Florida by the end of June 2016 at the latest. (Both U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and I
have made this prediction!)
While there have been pro-marriage equality rulings from state court judges in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, no marriage licenses are being issued in Florida. Judges have imposed stays of their decisions pending review by the state’s appellate courts. And Florida Attorney General Palm Bondi is fighting each and every case that she can to deny us equal marriage rights. She even is attempting to delay any progress in Florida by urging the state to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the matter (perhaps as late as June
2016). Quite hypocritical for one who has been a staunch supporter of states’ rights. But Pam Bondi is a master of hypocrisy. The twice divorced Bondi, having failed at two marriages, speaks out in court and in the media on the sanctity of marriage. You can’t have it both ways, Pam!
It is important to keep in mind that until the entire state of Florida recognizes same-sex marriages (or until Congress updates applicable federal laws), married gay and lesbian Florida residents will continue to be denied the Social Security and Veterans Affairs spousal benefits which are currently enjoyed by legally married gay men and lesbians living in states which recognize marriage equality.
Therefore, the most important race in Florida this year is the race for Attorney General. Incumbent Attorney General Pam Bondi must be defeated. Fortunately, Attorney General candidate (and longtime PBCHRC supporter) George
Sheldon is the one who can defeat her. Please take a moment to make as large a contribution as you can to – and to volunteer on – George’s campaign. Visit his website for more information.
While we anxiously await decisions other marriage equality cases in Florida, two of these need to be highlighted.
Palm Beach Gardens residents Sloan Grimsley and Joyce Albu, along with seven other Florida same-sex married couples, have sued the state in federal court for recognition of their out-of-state marriages. If they are successful – and if Pam Bondi does not appeal to the federal 11th Circuit — the State of Florida will be required to recognize out of state same-sex-marriages. Kudos go out to Sloan, Joyce and the other plaintiffs — as well as the ACLU of Florida — for bringing this lawsuit in federal court.
The issue of recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages is also in state court before the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach. Florida Atlantic University student Gildas Dousset, whose husband is a longtime Florida
resident, was denied in-state tuition that is granted to opposite-sex married couples. If Gildas is successful, the State of Florida — or at least Palm Beach, Broward, St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River and Okeechobee counties — could be
required to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. Kudos to Gildas, his husband and to his attorney George Castrataro for taking a stand.
Until all federal and state civil rights laws become LGBT-inclusive – and until marriage equality is extended throughout Florida – PBCHRC will remain vigilant in its efforts to end discrimination based on sexual orientation,
gender identity and gender expression.
Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council’s activists – all volunteers – have been screening candidates for public office, making endorsements, educating public officials and taking action with the sole purpose
of changing laws and policies to provide equal treatment and equal benefits for the local LGBT community.
Working to elect LGBT-supportive public officials has resulted in the enactment of more than 70 local laws and policies which now provide Palm Beach County’s LGBT residents and visitors with both equal protection and equal family benefits.
The Council's current projects include persuading:
In keeping with PBCHRC’s commitment to promoting equality through education, advocacy, direct action, impact litigation and community outreach, later this year, PBCHRC Vice Chair Jess Blackman, Secretary Rae Franks and Litigation Chair Trent Steele will be participating in Lavender Law, the National LGBT Bar Association Conference in New York. While there, Trent will also be participating in the Family Law Institute. In addition, I will be participating
in the 2014 Out & Equal Workplace Summit in San Francisco. These conferences bring together the best and brightest legals minds in the country, and PBCHRC is proud to continue its relationship these incredible legal
Finally, PBCHRC welcomes Boca Raton attorney Reagan South to its Board of Directors. To read more about her – and other members of PBCHRC’s Board of Directors, visit the Director's page.
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 2014 and beyond.
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 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