Category: Lesbian 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.”

 

Indie gay artist Craymo releases upbeat anti-bullying anthem Be Myself

(Gaywebsource.com) Orlando, Florida (10/1/2014) – Indie singer/songwriter Craymo from Orlando, Florida releases his uplifting anti-bullying pop anthem Be Myself that gives you the courage to just be yourself no matter what anyone else thinks. Inspired by the sounds of Maroon 5, One Republic and Robbie Williams, Craymo gets the party started with an upbeat hand clapper that instantly puts you in a good mood and entices you into singing along!

Bullying is reaching epidemic numbers and awareness needs to be made to help young kids, teenagers and adults realize that words, taunting, ridiculing and physically harming another person is wrong and damaging to the person being bullied. Growing up gay Craymo was the victim of bullying many times in his young adult as well as his adult life. Being called names, being teased and being emotionally attacked eats away at the human psyche.

Research shows that half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years. More than 10% are bullied regularly. Over 30% of children with a food allergy have been bullied. Food allergies affect nearly three million children. Girls bully in groups more than boys do and though girls use more indirect emotional type of bullying, research indicates that girls are becoming more physical than they have in the past. There has been an alarming increase of children committing suicide as a result of bullying. Bullying occurs globally in schools everywhere, it’s not just a problem for the United States.

Obese children, people with learning disabilities, having health conditions, wearing glasses, physical disabilities, being gay, etc. are all targets for mean bullies. Gay teens are three times more likely than heterosexual teens to report being bullied. In contrast 80% of gay teens said they were less likely than heterosexuals to say they had bullied someone else. Every day over 160,00 skip school in fear that they will be bullied.

Craymo wanted to create a fun, inspirational and empowering song to embrace your individuality, there is no one else like you. You are unique, just Be Yourself.

Be Myself has been featured on the Independent Music Radio Network syndicated in over 35 countries and held for two weeks at #2 position on the Independent Mainstream Top 30 Chart. Be Myself is nominated for best Pop song 2014 Hollywood Music In Media Awards, September and has been selected for a featured spot on Al Walser’s Top 20 Countdown show syndicated globally. Be Myself was co-written by Craymo, Brandon Jarrett and Joshua Danyel of Moho Productions, LLC. The song was produced by Brandon Jarrett and Craymo for Moho Productions, LLC. Craymo is available for personal appearances, live performances and TV and Radio interviews.

Be Myself is available for purchase on Craymo’s website www.craymo.com CDBaby.com, iTunes and most digital download sites. The song is available for branding and licensing opportunities.

Be Myself by Craymo http://www.reverbnation.com/craymo/song/21203861-be-myself

Contact: Craig Raymo, Director of Publishing, Moho Music, ASCAP mohoprods@yahoo.com
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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.

Anti Bullying Song We Are One by Craymo for Sochi

(Gaywebsource.com). Kissimmee, FL, USA

Inspiration (def.) the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions.

The Olympic Games, every four years we are inspired, by the strength, camaraderie, compassion, human spirit, the personal triumphs and losses as well as the love of family and country. We are inspired by the athletes who wake up every day of their lives with the determination to be the best that they can be, no matter what the odds are that are stacked up against them. We are also inspired by the hundreds of nations around the world, coming together in peace to share their love of sports and competition.

We Are One (One Love One World), written and performed by indie, gay, singer/songwriter Craymo, is a song of inspiration, a song of hope for a better world. It is dedicated to the athletes of the Sochi Winter Games and to all the citizens of the world. It is an anti-bullying anthem that reminds us to simply be nicer and kinder to one another. To focus on the beauty of other human beings instead of our differences. We Are One (One Love One World) is a song of hope, togetherness, equality, love, brotherhood, human rights and world peace. It has been downloaded and performed by children, teachers and their choirs at schools all over the world including the United States, The UK, Canada, Australia and China. We Are One (One Love One World) is featured on the album Cosmos Remastered, available on CD Baby.com and iTunes.

“My ultimate dream is to hear every school, church and community choir from nations around the world sing this song together in unison to help raise the world’s consciousness towards love and to help erase hatred in our lifetimes” Craymo

In honor of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games Craymo is offering free MP3 downloads of We Are One (One Love One World), as well as the sing a long version, from his website through the end of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games until the end of February.

http://www.craymo.com

We Are One (One Love One World), written by Craig Stephen Raymo, BMI and Brandon Jarrett, ASCAP. Produced by Brandon Jarrett and Craymo for Moho Productions, LLC. Published by Craymo Music, BMI and Moho Music, ASCAP.For licensing, performance or personal appearance information Email: mohoprods@yahoo.com

 

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

Palm Beach County Clerk Offers Tax Relief for Domestic Partners

West Palm Beach, Florida (GayWebSource.com) —  Sharon R. Bock, Clerk & Comptroller for Palm Beach County has issued a new policy to provide federal tax relief to employees who cover their domestic partners on through the Clerk’s health insurance plans.

Under the Domestic Partner Tax Equity Policy, Clerk & Comptroller employees with qualified domestic partners who are enrolled in the Clerk’s health, dental or vision plans will have their pay grossed up to offset the additional federal taxes paid on these insurance premiums. Federal tax laws treat those insurance benefits as additional income for the employee, and are subject to additional income tax burden.

Married employees whose spouses and children are covered by the Clerk’s health, dental and vision insurance plans are not subject to the same tax burden.

“This is a fairness issue,” Clerk Bock said. “I want to ensure our employees are treated equally. That means employees with domestic partners should not have to pay more for their insurance coverage than their married colleagues who cover their spouses’ health insurance.”

Clerk Bock enacted the policy upon the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, a non-profit organization, which, for the last 25 years, has been dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.  The organization has also been the prime mover for domestic partnership benefits in Palm Beach County for more than two decades.

Within the past year, local policies to offset the additional federal tax burden paid by employees who insure their domestic partners were adopted by Palm Beach County, the City of West Palm Beach, the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser and the Constitutional Tax Collector for Palm Beach County.

“For more than 25 years, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has worked with both public and private employers to enact policies that eliminate inequalities in the workplace,” said Council President Rand Hoch.  “It is encouraging that once again, a Palm Beach County constitutional officer has taken steps to ensure that her  employees with domestic partners receive equal take-home pay for equal work.”

Five of the Florida’s nine tax equity policies have been instituted by public employers in Palm Beach County, placing the county at the forefront of the tax equity movement nationwide.
Other public employers in Florida offering federal tax equity relief to employees insuring their domestic partners include the Constitutional Tax Collector for Orange County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Miami Beach and Wilton Manors.

“More tax equity policies have been enacted by public in employers Florida than in the remaining 49 states combined,” said Hoch.

 

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

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Lesbian romance novel to bridge the tennis off-season

Christmas discount for novel series offers relief for desperate lesbian tennis fans. Part One of the Love Game romance series will be available for free until the end of December. The fiction series follows several lesbian tennis players around the globe on their hunt for trophies, fame and love.
(gaywebsource.com) Munich, Germany – Tennis lovers all over the world dread the last weeks of the year when professional tennis players lay down their rackets and relax before the tour picks up again in sunny Australia. No live tennis, no drama.
Love Game series by M.B. GerardBut lesbian tennis fans may rejoice. Love Game, a lesbian romance series set in the women’s tennis world, was created by author M.B. Gerard and offers relief.
“I’m a huge tennis fan and I started writing the series when I had serious tennis withdrawal in late 2011,” Gerard laughs. “I also believed that the tennis world with its big egos and eccentric personalities would be a great setting for a novel.”
Tennis is especially popular with lesbians and it’s not a big secret that a lot of female players swing their rackets the other way. It even has become a game for Love Game readers familiar to the tennis world to detect who-is-who in Love Game, but Gerard dismisses the idea that some characters are based on real players.
“There are definitely tennis players who I like more than others and some gave me ideas for characters I created but it’s all fictional,” the writer assures and jokes: “I wish the real tennis world was as exciting as Love Game. I’d give up writing and get a job as a ballkid.”
Two novels have been published by indie eBook giant Smashwords so far.
Love Game –Season 2011 is available for free download at Smashwords.com using coupon code RM75V until the end of December or at Amazon.com for 99 cents.
Contact info: M.B. Gerard, www.mbgerard.com , info @ mbgerard.com

 

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

HISTORIC WINS FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN MARYLAND AND MAINE AND PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA WINS RE-ELECTION

Tammy Baldwin Elected First Gay U.S. Senator

(GayWebSource.com) New York, NY, November 7, 2012 – GLAAD today responded to historic wins for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. President Barack Obama won re-election after becoming the first acting president to voice support for marriage equality. Voters in Maine and Maryland affirmed marriage for gay and lesbian couples. This is the first time that voters in any state voted in favor of marriage equality. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin also became the first out gay U.S. Senator.

For more information visit http://glaad.org/vote

“Visibility and progress for LGBT people have grown under President Obama and now that momentum must continue,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “LGBT people deserve full equality in every aspect of American life and President Obama, in his second term, should take every concrete step within his power to make it so.”

Mainers United for Marriage and Marylanders for Marriage Equality joined national media in declaring victory for marriage equality in their states. Results of votes for marriage equality in Washington and against a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in Minnesota have not been announced.

“Voters in Maine and Maryland have shown that full equality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a partisan issue but an issue of human dignity,” said Graddick. “The claims made by anti-gay activists that voters would never embrace marriage for gay and lesbian couples could not be further from the truth. Across lines of politics, race, religion and gender, voters in Maryland and Maine today demonstrated that marriage equality is becoming a real part of American history.”

In Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin became the first out gay U.S. Senator.

“Tonight, Tammy Baldwin made history and shone a bright light across America.  No longer is the United States Senate a place for only a select few but for every citizen, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans,” said Graddick. “Baldwin’s victory showed what a majority of Americans already know: that candidates should be judged on their qualifications for the job and not their sexual orientation.”

For more information visit: http://glaad.org/vote

###
About GLAAD: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.

Rich Ferraro
Vice President of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8011
ferraro@glaad.org

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