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Column: Palm Beach County’s Year in Review LGBT Rights

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As the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council's 26th year draws to a close, the Board of Directors and I want to wish all of our supporters and allies a happy and healthy 2015.

Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has worked diligently with public officials to successfully enact more than 75 local laws and policies that provide equal protection and benefits to Palm Beach County's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Palm Beach County is now one of the best places in the world for LGBT people to live, study, work, socialize and retire.

PBCHRC's accomplishments over the past year include the following:

December 2014

The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners voted to sign on to all of the marriage equality amicus briefs filed — and to be filed — by the cities of Miami Beach and Orlando.

November 2014

The West Palm Beach City Commission voted unanimously to sign on to all of the marriage equality amicus briefs filed — and to be filed — by the cities of Miami Beach and Orlando.

The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners voted to sign on to the marriage equality amicus brief filed by the cities of Miami Beach and Orlando in Shaw v. Shaw.

October 2014

The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to implement a policy providing that the County will not do business with, or appropriate funds to, any public or private organization which practices discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability or genetic information.

PBCHRC President Rand Hoch and Vice Chair Jess Blackman presented a seminar on discrimination at the "Out of the Closet and In Your Office" legal education conference sponsored by the Florida Association of LGBT Lawyer and Allies. PBCHRC co-sponsored the conference.

The Town of Lake Park updated its Equal Employment Policy to prohibit discrimination based on "gender identity or expression."

September 2014

PBCHRC Vice Chair Jess Blackman and Litigation Chair Trent Steele were elected to the Board of Directors of the Florida Association of LGBT Lawyer and Allies.

August 2014

On August 18, the West Palm Beach City Commission unanimously 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.

Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Diana Lewis rules that Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, making her the fourth Florida judge to reach that conclusion.

June 2014

PBCHRC President and Founder Rand Hoch and PBCHRC Treasurer Dan Hall attend the LGBT Pride Month Reception at the White House with the President and First Lady.

Palm Beach County School Superintendent E. Wayne Gent implements an initiative placing gender studies contacts in every school to provide support for LGBT students.

May 2014

PBCHRC President and Founder Rand Hoch addresses the American Bar Association conference on diversity issues.

March 2014

Palm Beach Gardens residents Sloan Grimsley and Joyce Albu, along with seven other Florida same-sex married couples, sued the state in federal court for recognition of their out-of-state marriages.

The Lake Worth City Commission voted unanimously to establish a domestic partnership registry.

January 2014

The Clerk & Comptroller for Palm Beach County implemented a tax equity reimbursement policy to reimburse employees insuring their domestic partners for the full amount of the additional federal income taxes which are assessed on employees whose domestic partners receive health insurance through their employers.


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