Category: Gay Rights News

Palm Beach County Strengthens Civil Rights Protections

(GayWebSource.com) (West Palm Beach, Florida) –  At this morning’s meeting, Palm Beach County Commissioners voted unanimously to expand civil rights protections for minorities by amending the definition of “places of public accommodation” in the Palm Beach County Ordinance for Equal Opportunity to Housing and Places of Public Accommodation.

“When I looked at the antidiscrimination ordinances that had been in effect in Palm Beach County over the years, it became clear that our law needed to be updated to better protect minorities,” said County Commissioner Mary Lou Berger. “In light of all that is happening with race relations across our nation, this is the appropriate time for the County Commission to take a strong, proactive stand against discrimination.”

While a majority of states have long prohibited discrimination of any kind in retail establishments, Florida is not one of them.

“Since there is no statewide law covering discrimination in retail stores, the ordinance passed today is clearly the most significant civil rights law passed in Palm Beach County in decades,” said Rand Hoch, the retired judge who provided the County Attorney’s office with the language used in the ordinance.

Hoch is President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), the County’s most prolific civil rights organization. Over the past twenty-five years, PBCHRC has succeeded in having public officials enact more than 90 local antidiscrimination laws and policies.

Palm Beach County first enacted an ordinance to prohibit discrimination in places of public accommodation in 1973.  Over the years, the ordinance has been rewritten to include discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion, national origin, disability, familial status, sexual orientation, age, marital status, and gender identity or expression.

However, for more than three decades, instances of public accommodation discrimination were strictly limited to only those which occurred in places offering lodging, food service or entertainment in the ordinance.

“The ordinance traced its roots back to civil rights laws written in the 1960s when it was legal to have ‘Whites only’ hotels, restaurants and bars and the County Commissioners only addressed inequities had occurred in very few places of commerce.” said Hoch. “As we know, discriminatory acts are not limited to those few places.”

“No one should be subjected to the humiliation of being denied service in a store open to the general public because of his or her race.” said County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor.

“Allowing store owners to choose their customers based on prejudice deprives shoppers of the freedom to walk into a store that seems to be open the general public and get served like everybody else,” said Hoch.

At today’s meeting, the County Commissioners widely expanded the definition of public accommodation to include retail stores, schools, day care and senior centers, medical offices, funeral homes, bakeries, laundromats and virtually all other places of business throughout the county.

“When the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council asked the County Commission to expand the definition of places of public accommodation last January, our main priority was to prohibit consumer racism in retail stores – a practice known as ‘shopping while Black,'” said Hoch.

The experience of people of color being refused service – or given poor service – is not uncommon.  “Shopping while Black” also includes black customers being followed by store clerks, wrongly detained, steered away from certain products, and being asked for additional forms of identification regarding credit applications.

President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey,  Condoleezza Rice, and other well-know Black Americans have publically discussed their humiliating experiences of shopping while black.

“There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store,” President Obama said after the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin. “That includes me.”

“Public accommodations must be open to all people equally. If you hang out a shingle and get a license to do business with the general public, you should be required to provide the same service to all of the general public – and that includes gays and lesbians.” said Hoch.

Since same-sex marriage has become legal, a handful of companies in the wedding industry in Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have  refused to provide services gay and lesbian couples.

“Gay and lesbian couples planning their weddings are being refused service solely because of their sexual orientation,” said Hoch.  “Under the new Palm Beach County ordinance, if a bakery refuse to provide a cake for a gay or lesbian couple’s wedding, that baker may be faced with litigation, a fine of up to $50,000 and payment of attorneys’ fees.”

The new ordinance does take into account the special rights of churches and private clubs by exempting both religious and distinctly private organizations from the ordinance.

“Churches may be allowed to  exclude people of other faiths.  Private clubs may be allowed to continue to deny membership based on race and religion,” said Hoch. “However, in Palm Beach County, businesses engaged in commerce will no longer be allowed to refuse service based on a person’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or any other protected classes.”

 

1 Song for Equality and Peace by Craymo

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3JHZ23suKo">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3JHZ23suKo</a>
(GayWebSource.com) Orlando, FL 1/1/2017

Indie gay Orlando singer/songwriter Craymo releases an inspirational new music video for the re-release single of his reggae pop song One Love One World (We Are One). One Love One World is a heartfelt song promoting world peace, equality, love, tolerance, brotherhood and human rights.

With all of the recent incidents of terrorism, mass shootings and senseless killing of innocent people and children, Craymo wants to start 2016 with a message and vision of love for the world. The music video begins with children in Pang Liu Village in China who were taught English using One Love One World as a learning aid.

It is a thought provoking message of the power of a song to change people’s lives for the better. Craymo says “let’s all put our hands together to help make this world a better place for all of us.”

The music video is co-directed by Craymo along with Nathan McMahan of August Moon Productions. The Director of Photography is Brent Reynolds, also of August Moon Productions and was edited by Jason Barnes, all local central Florida film talents. One Love One World (We Are One) is co-written by Craig Stephen Raymo and Brandon Jarrett of Moho Productions. The song is produced by Brandon Jarrett.

One Love One World (We Are One) world premiere music video is released January 1, 2016 on YouTube and all social media.

One Love One World is from Craymo’s CD Cosmos available on iTunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/one-love-one-world/id580366397?i=580366635

and CDBaby.com

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio places travel ban on city-funded trips to Mississippi

(GayWebSource.com – West Palm Beach, Florida) — In the wake of Mississippi’s enactment of HB 1523, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio became the first mayor in Florida — and the second in the nation after Seattle Mayor Ed Murray — to place a travel ban on city-funded trips to Mississippi.

HB 1523, which was signed into law yesterday by Mississippi’s Republican Governor, Phil Bryant, allows people with religious objections to deny services to lesbian and gays and permits employers to use religious beliefs as justification in determining workplace policies.

“For more than two decades, West Palm Beach has been in the forefront, protecting the civil rights and ensuring equality for the LGBT community,” said Muoio. “Until the discriminatory laws in Mississippi and North Carolina are repealed, West Palm Beach taxpayers will not subsidize legally-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people.”

On March 28, Muoio became the second mayor in the nation — after San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee – to impose a similar ban on travel to North Carolina following the enactment of another comprehensive anti-LGBT law in that state.

Mayor Muoio implemented the two travel bans at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), a local civil rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.  Since 1990, PBCHRC has been responsible for the enactment of more than 100 local laws and policies which prohibit discrimination against the LGBT community.

“Once again, Mayor Muoio has taken steps to ensure that taxpayers dollars will not be spent in places that discriminate against LGBT Americans,” said retired judge Rand Hoch, PBCHRC President and Founder.  “We commend Mayor Muoio for putting her strong beliefs against bigotry into action by prohibiting taxpayer dollars being used in both Mississippi and North Carolina.”

Last year, Muoio was one of a handful of mayors who announced a similar travel ban to the state of Indiana, following the

wake of Indiana’s passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,

As the result of pressure placed on Indiana by civic leaders, businesses, and numerous other entities, the Indiana Legislature promptly amended the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,by specifying that the law could not be used as a legal defense to discriminate against patrons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Following Muoio’s announcement this morning, travel bans to Mississippi have been implemented by the governors of Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington as well as the mayors of.San Francisco and Seattle

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Media provided by GayWebSource.com – Gay Media and Press Network.

West Palm Beach to Vote on Equal Benefits Ordinance

West Palm Beach, Florida (GayWebSource.com) — The City of West Palm Beach is poised to become the first public employer in the county to enact an equal benefits ordinance (EBO) requiring contractors to offer equal family benefits to all of their employees.

The ordinance is being considered at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, a local non-profit organization which has successfully encouraged numerous local public employers to enact more than 75 laws and policies providing equal benefits for employees in nontraditional families.

“It is all about equal pay for equal work,” said Rand Hoch, President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.

The proposed ordinance is limited to city contracts of $50,000 or more, entered into by contractors with five or more employees. To comply with the proposed ordinance, a contractor offering health insurance and other family benefits to employees’ legally recognized spouses must offer the same benefits to employees’ same-sex spouses and domestic partners.

The law would not require city contractors to begin offering benefits not previously offered. If a contractor does not offer benefits to opposite-sex married employees, it is not required to offer benefits to employees in same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships.

“West Palm Beach has been in the forefront of equal benefits issues in Florida since 1992,” said Hoch. “The EBO paves the way to ensure that contractors embrace the same pro-family policies which the City of West Palm Beach has implemented over the years.”

“Requiring contractors to provide to employees with same-sex spouses and domestic partners benefits equal to those provided to employees whose marriages are recognized by the state of Florida will require contractors to maintain a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining the highest quality work force, thereby improving the quality of goods and services that the city receives,” said Mayor Jeri Muoio.
Since the first equal benefit ordinances was enacted in 1996, numerous public employers across the nation have followed suit, including the state of California. In Florida, six public employers – Broward County, Hallandale Beach, Key West, Miami Beach, Oakland Park and Key West — have enacted equal benefits ordinances.

Media provided by GayWebSource.com – Gay Media and Press Network.

 

Boynton Beach to Consider Domestic Partnership Benefits

Boynton Beach, Florida (GayWebSource.com) At the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, the Boynton Beach City Commission will soon address offering employees with domestic partners or same-sex spouses the same family benefits currently offered to municipal employees whose marriages are recognized by the state of Florida.

For more than two decades, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has been successful in its campaigns to encourage local public employers to offer equal benefits to employees with nontraditional families.

Earlier this month, the Council sent a comprehensive report on Workplace Equality to the Mayor and City Commissioners and asked them to “adopt policies providing City employees with domestic partners the same family benefits as are provided to employees with spouses, including medical insurance, dental insurance, COBRA and health insurance continuation coverage, life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment insurance, family sick leave, bereavement leave, family-medical leave, the employee assistance plan and as any other family benefits offered by the City.”

The Council also met with Julie Oldbury, the City’s Director of Human Resources and Risk Management.  Prior to coming to work for Boynton Beach, she Ms. Oldbury directed the implementation of similar benefits for the City of Oakland Park.

“Despite recent court decisions in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, Florida still does not recognize same-sex marriages, ” said Rand Hoch,  President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.  “Additionally, opposite-sex couples may remain unmarried to allow their children to receive child support from a prior marriage.  These families which should be accorded equal treatment and benefits by the City of Boynton Beach.”

According to U.S. Census data, more than 5,200 Boynton Beach residents identify themselves as unmarried partners living together.

“Boynton Beach is a progressive city whose elected officials should fully recognize diverse familial relationships,” said Allan Hendricks, an LGBT rights advocate who ran for City Council in the last election.  “One way to ensure that all residents are treated fairly is to provide all city employees identical family benefits.”

“Since Boynton Beach does not pay any portion of the insurance premium for employees’ dependents, these benefits will only require a minimal impact on the City’s budget,” said Hoch.

With open enrollment for employee health insurance just a few months away, time is of the essence.

The Council hopes that at next week’s city commission meeting, city leaders will take a pro-family stance by directing staff to determine how to implement these benefits.

As a result of the efforts of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, domestic partnership benefits are currently offered by the municipalities of  Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Lake Worth, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington and West Palm Beach, as well as by Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County School District, the Port of Palm Beach, the Palm Beach County Health Care District, Palm Beach State College, Florida Atlantic University, the Children’s Services Council, Palm Tran, Seacoast Utility Authority,  the Solid Waste Authority and all five of Palm Beach County’s constitutional officers.

More than seventy-five public employers across Florida now provide domestic partnership benefits to their employees.

Media provided by GayWebSource.com – Gay Media and Press Network.

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