On Jan. 9, West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James proclaimed “PBCHRC Day” and presented Founder and President Rand Hoch with the key to the city.

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council was founded in 1988 to advocate for LGBTQ+ Equity in Palm Beach County. PBCHRC is responsible for over 160 LGBT-oriented policies and bills being passed throughout the county since its inception.

At a City of West Palm Beach commission meeting, James invited Hoch, who was Florida’s first openly gay judge, to receive the key to the city. This came after informing him that the PBCHRC would also be getting a resolution passed in honor of its 35-year anniversary.

Hoch attended the commission meeting, surrounded by friends, PBCHRC board members, and other LGBT advocates, including Julie Seaver, the executive director of Compass LGBTQ+ Community Center. After the reading of the resolution, James presented Hoch with the key, citing his decades of passionate and tireless advocacy for the community.

“Working with the city has been amazing,” said Hoch. “The things we were able to get done here so easily because of the elected officials and the staff understand discrimination, made it easier to work with the county and other municipalities on those issues.”

The PBCHRC was responsible for pushing many LGBT protection ordinances, including same-sex partner benefits with the county and the recently struck-down conversion therapy bans enacted by the county and the City of Boca Raton.

“We have made many strides, but we can see there is still more work to do,” said Hoch. “We’ve been doing this for 35 years and we will continue this fight as long as it’s needed.”

Disclaimer: Sean Conklin is on the board of PBCHRC