Palm Beach County came out in record numbers to support marriage equality at Equality Florida Institute’s inaugural Palm Beach County fundraising reception on Feb.12, 2014, underwritten by Northern Trust who hosted the affair in their building in North Palm Beach.
“It was an absolute sellout,” said Stratton Pollitzer, deputy director of the agency. “We had more than 230 people and everyone had a great time.”
“We had originally set a goal of $35,000 but we quickly upped that to $50,000 and once we get a final accounting I’m sure we will have exceeded that, too,” he added.
“We blew it out of the water,” said Allan Hendricks, Equality Florida’s Palm Beach County Steering Committee chair. “The place was like a piece of Palm Beach [Island] with incredible lighting and a wedding theme designed with gowns and tuxes and fabrics with a seven layer wedding cake as centerpiece. Amazing.”
The elegant wedding décor design was provided by Jeff Fowler, senior event sales manager at The Breakers. Several corporate sponsors helped underwrite the decorations. At press time more than 15 corporate sponsors (including SFGN were listed on the Equality Florida website.
“There were hors d’oeuvres and food stations around the perimeter of the space… offered a variety of food – just like a fancy wedding,” said Charlie Fredrickson, a long-time advocate for civil equality and member of the host committee made up of nine couples and six individuals who helped underwrite the program.
Also present was one of the six couples who, with Equality Florida, recently filed suit in Florida sate court in Miami. Don Johnston and Jorge Diaz, whose brother was the former mayor of Miami, Manny Diaz, drove up to attend the festivities. Many people thanked the couple and wished them luck in the suit.
Hendricks was one of two Voice for Equality Award recipients recognized at the event; the other was Rand Hoch, founder and president of the 25-year-old Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC). “We didn’t get to say much more than ‘thank you,’”said Hendricks. “But it was nice to be recognized for the work our group has done.”
“It was a very nice event,” Hoch said. “I just wish I’d had a couple of minutes to recognize some of the people who make PBCHRC what it is. Dan Hall has over 20 years as intake manager and treasurer; Rae Franks who is in charge of our candidate screening… and Trent Steele has been our lead litigator for more than 10 years are the ones who make it work.”
Equality Florida CEO, Nadine Smith, was scheduled to give a state of the state address but was called to Tallahassee at the last minute and could not attend.
“She had to meet with lobbyists about the Florida Competitive Workforce Act,” Pollitzer said.
“In fact,” he added, “If there’s one takeaway from the state of the state, it’s that in Tallahassee we are gaining bi-partisan support unprecedented in our nation. Scores of Republicans are joining Democrats in calling for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“Everything was wonderful,” said Connie Kurtz who, with her wife, Ruth Berman (known for the HBO documentary “Connie & Ruthie: Every Room in the House.”) were members of the host committee. “It was welcoming. It was beautiful. There was nothing skimpy but it wasn’t ostentatious. It was amazing how they turned a bank building into a wedding palace.”
“Stratton Pollitzer spoke extremely well and no one shied away from the pledge cards when they were being distributed,” she said. “Really, there was a sense of welcome and friendship and common cause. Ruthie and I had a very good time.”