MESSAGE FROM RAND HOCH, PRESIDENT & FOUNDER
April 5, 2016
Once again, LGBT voters in Palm Beach County turned out in force in the municipal elections (and the Presidential Primary) held earlier this month.
On March 29, 2016, voters in Riviera Beach elected Tonya Davis Johnson to the City Council, making her the 11th openly LGBT person to hold elective office in Palm Beach County. Congratulations Tonya. (These include five mayors, three Vice mayors and three members of city commissions and city councils). We trust that the endorsement of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance (PBCHRCVA) – and our work in getting out the vote in Riviera Beach – helped Tonya get elected.
On the same day, voters in Boynton Beach elected Steven Grant, a political newcomer endorsed by PBCHRCVA. Grant ousted longtime incumbent mayor Jerry Taylor, who has been a thorn in our side since the mid-1990s, when he first opposed a gay rights ordinance sought by PBCHRC. More recently he has spoken out against domestic partnership benefits and he was the sole vote against enacting an LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance for his city.
Bye, Felicia – and hello, Steven!
Three longtime PBCHRC supporters from Lake Worth - Mayor Pam Triolo, City Commissioners Andy Amoroso and City Commissioner Scott Maxwell - were re-elected in the March 15 election. All three of these civil leaders have been outspoken in their support of LGBT rights and marriage equality.
West Palm Beach City Commission Sylvia Moffett also was re-elected in a contested election on March 15. (West Palm Beach City Commissioners Paula Ryan and Shanon Materio were re-elected without opposition.) All three public officials have been outspoken advocates on LGBT issues and PBCHRC initiatives.
In Wellington, two PBCHRC supporters - John McGovern and Michael Napoleone - were elected to the Village Council without opposition. Unfortunately, Wellington Mayor Bob Margolis and Village Councilman John Greene lost their re-election bids in a hotly contested March 15 election. (Incoming Mayor Anne Gerwig, who defeated Margolis, did vote in favor of the LGBT Civil Rights ordinance proposed by PBCHRC last year.)
Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance has 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. PBCHRCVA endorsements are made upon consideration of how candidates have voted on LGBT issues and how they have supported the Palm Beach County LGBT community. A complete list of 2016 endorsed candidates can be found on our Endorsements page.
Working to elect LGBT-supportive public officials has resulted in the enactment of the local laws and policies that now provide Palm Beach County's LGBT residents and visitors with equal rights, protections and benefits.
Last year, elected officials in eight local municipalities - Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Haverhill, Lake Clarke Shores, Riviera Beach, Wellington and West Palm Beach - voted to enact LGBT-inclusive civil rights laws and policies. The Palm Beach County Commissioners, officials at the Port of Palm Beach, the School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida Atlantic University and the South Florida Water Management District also took steps last year to ensure the rights of LGBT people were protected.
Our successes have continued in 2016.
In January, Lake Worth City Commissioners unanimously voted to (a) amend the city's Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, (b) amend the city's Merit Services policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression and (c) amend the city's Procurement Code to ensure equal opportunity based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
Later that month, the Town of Haverhill amended its Equal Employment Opportunity and Anti-Harassment Policies to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression."
In March, the Town of Lake Clarke Shores updated its Anti-Harassment Policy to specifically include "gender identity or expression" among the protected classes.
To date, local public employers that have enacted ordinances, resolutions, collective bargaining agreements and policies prohibiting discrimination based on both "sexual orientation" and/or "gender identity or expression" for their employees include the City of Atlantis, the City of Belle Glade, the City of Pahokee, the City of Palm Beach Gardens, the City of South Bay, the Town of Haverhill, the Town of Hypoluxo, the Town of Juno Beach, the Town of Jupiter, the Town of Lake Clarke Shores, the Town of Lake Park, the Town of Manalapan, the Town of Palm Beach, the Town of Palm Beach Shores, the City of Riviera Beach, the Village of Royal Palm Beach, the Village of Tequesta, the School District of Palm Beach County, Palm Beach State College, Florida Atlantic University, the Port of Palm Beach, the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, the Office of the Tax Collector, the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser, the Office of the Supervisor of Elections, the Office of the Public Defender, the Office of the State Attorney, the Palm Beach County Sheriffs' Office, the Office of the Clerk and Comptroller, Seacoast Utility Authority, the Solid Waste Authority, Palm Tran, the Palm Beach County Children's Services Council and the South Florida Water Management District.
At PBCHRC's request, the City of West Palm Beach added an LGBT web page to the city's website in February. The page presents information on the city's history of supporting the LGBT community, as well as contact information for the City's liaison to the LGBT community and the City of West Palm Beach Police Department's liaison to the LGBT community.
Because of the overwhelming lack of support for LGBT rights in the Florida Legislature, LGBT people around the state must continue to work on the county and municipal level to enact laws providing equal rights and benefits for our community.
On the statewide level, 2016 was a horrible year for LGBT rights in Florida.
In contrast, thanks to the efforts of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council over the past 28 years, more than 100 local laws and policies now provide Palm Beach County's LGBT residents (and visitors) with both equal protection and equal benefits.
In response to heinous anti-LGBT laws enacted in North Carolina and Mississippi, at PBCHRC's requests, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio promptly instituted policies proihbiting city empoyees from traveling to North Carolina and Mississippi.
SAVE THE DATES
July 9, 2016 Summer Soirée in West Palm Beach
January 14, 2017 Winter Fête in Wellington
Thanks to our longtime supporters (with an assist from social media), the 2016 Winter Fête sold out shortly after we sent out our "Save the Date" cards. We didn't have to send out a single invitation! We are strictly limited to no more than 100 attendees at the July 9, 2016 Summer Soirée, which will be held at the fabulous new home of Jeffrey P. Ganek in West Palm Beach's South End. So if you are interested in attending PBCHRC's Summer Soirée, keep checking the Events page to see when tickets become available so you won't miss out!
Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Award
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council is accepting applications for the Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Award -- a college scholarship available to graduating LGBT high school seniors from Palm Beach County. Each year we award this scholarship to local college bound high school seniors who have demonstrated an interest in advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community.
PBCHRC's Social Justice Award is named after Daniel S. Hall, a local attorney who manages a financial counseling company. Hall has served as the Treasurer of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council since 1990 and is its longest serving board member. As a father of three, an activist, and a mentor of gay youth, Hall has always had a strong interest in education.
If you are - or know - a college-bound high school senior and are interested in applying for the scholarship, please go to http://bit.ly/PBCHRC to apply. The deadline is midnight on April 8, 2016.
PBCHRC also is encouraging local Middle and High School students to participate in the School District's 2016 Youth Summit on Saturday, April 23. For information about attending this fee event, visit http://conta.cc/200VhvP.
At the International Gay Polo Tournament this past weekend, PBCHRC volunteers signed up more than 200 new supporters - and everyone had great fun tailgating Thanks go out to Joseph Pubillones Interiors and Realtor Don Todorich of the Corcoran Group for once again underwriting the PBCHRC tailigate party.
Finally, PBCHRC congratulates our longtime Secretary and Board Member Rae Franks for being selected to receive a Diversity Honors Award from the Harvey Milk Foundation. Information concerning the May 13, 2016, Diversity Honors Awards ceremony will be sent out shortly.Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has worked diligently on behalf of the LGBT community. Since there is virtually no chance of enacting either federal or statewide LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws in the immediate future, we will focus on work that remains to be done on the local level in 2016 - and beyond.
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
Post Office Box 267
West Palm Beach, Florida 33402
View the complete list of candidates endorsed by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council
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