Boca and Palm Beach County Commission to Decide on LGBT Rights

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On Sept. 10, the Boca Raton city council will determine whether or not to afford domestic partner benefits, as well as whether to include its non-discrimination clause to include “gender identity or expression and sexual orientation.”

All this according to the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council’s (PBCHRC) founder and president and founder Rand Hoch, who’d been fighting the city specifically since Sept. 2012 about these very issues. PBCHRC celebrated its 25th year in July, and is a constant voice of advocacy for LGBT people in the northernmost county of South Florida. The ordeal got close to the courts in February when the city refused to cooperate with FOI requests. City officials became notorious when they refused to consider LGBT equality under the proposed ordinances by comparing LGBT people to dogs.

“That doesn’t mean our work in Boca Raton is done,” Hoch told SFGN. “After they pass all that stuff on Sept. 10, if an LGBT employee has a problem, there’s only an internal solution. Ultimately, it’ll be decided by someone who works for the city. That’s a big problem because the people running the city are homophobes. They took a year to get this voted on.”

People working in Palm Beach County can file complaints if they feel they’re discriminated against. That recourse doesn’t work for Boca Raton residents because, in 2012, Boca opted out of the county’s equal rights ordinance.

Boca’s consideration comes on the heels of a decision by another Palm Beach County city, Town of Palm Beach, to allow for domestic partner benefits. In July, Hoch showed up at a Boca workshop and explained why it’s important to take action now so people can enroll their partners in October’s open enrollment. Delaying the decision would potentially keep many people from being able to apply.

“So far, no one from the public has spoken against .” “People understand that what’s happened in the past has been discriminatory, and they understand that the time to correct that is now.”

Coincidentally, Palm Beach County is also voting on an LGBT-related measure on Sept. 10 — this one focused on same-sex tax equity.

“We may have a lot of news on Sept. 10 up here in PBC,” Hoch concluded.

SFGN will follow the issue and keep you updated.Jacob Long

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