The Riviera Beach City Council gave initial approval by a unanimous vote to enact a civil rights ordinance. It will go into effect in October.

The ordinance prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Douglas Lawson, City Council Chair Pro Tem, introduced the ordinance at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council — an organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, according to the press release.

"Although our nation has made strides at eradicating racism and discrimination, we must continue to shape our nation's definition of, and access to, equality at the federal, state, and local levels," said Lawson in a press release. "Understanding that diversity matters strengthens our communities to ensure that women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and other minorities can attain the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

"PBCHRC stands together with Black Lives Matter, which has always put LGBTQ voices at the center of the conversation," PBCHRC Board Member Jasmin Lewis told City Councilmembers, according to the press release.

"However, we acknowledge that while our work has benefitted both the LGBTQ and Black residents of Riviera Beach, as an organization, PBCHRC has not done enough to align our missions with work for racial justice. Today, we publicly state our support in a unified way," Lewis added.

PBCHRC's "Palm Beach County: You're Welcome!" campaign has encouraged elected officials in Delray Beach, Greenacres, Haverhill, and Westlake to enact LGBT-inclusive municipal civil rights laws.

"While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited nationwide, there are no federal or statewide laws in effect in Florida which protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing and public accommodations," said PBCHRC President Rand Hoch in the press release. "Therefore, until Congress or the Florida Legislature takes action, we must rely on local officials to fully protect LGBTQ people from discrimination."

Another civil rights ordinance took effect in the Town of Juno Beach on Sept. 23.

Only 35 cities, towns and villages in Florida have enacted civil rights ordinances.


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