The rally drew a crowd of over 100 people carrying signs and calling for Florida’s legislature to legalize gay marriage in Florida.
“As a lawyer who closely follows this issue in federal courts across America,” Hoch said during his speech, “I feel comfortable in predicting that before the end of June, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down all laws across the nation which prevent lesbians and gay men from marrying their partners.”
Hoch, who practices law and mediates employment disputes, became Florida’s first openly gay judge when he was appointed Judge of Compensation Claims in 1992 by then-Governor Lawton Chiles. He served until his term ended in 1996.
In 1988, Hoch founded the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, and has served as the group’s president since 2006.
During his speech, Hoch also praised Palm Beach County citizens’ pro marriage-equality stance.
“More than a quarter of a million people in Palm Beach County voted against enshrining anti-LGBT discrimination in our state constitution,” he said. “Locally we had the votes to kill the marriage ban.”
The rally offered poster boards for gay married couples to make signs showing where they got married and how much they ended up spending for their out-of-state weddings.
In his speech at the top of the City Hall steps, Hoch called a reversal of Florida’s ban on gay marriage “inevitable.”
“Sooner or later, the courts here in Florida will declare that the ban against lesbian and gay marriages is unconstitutional, as the ban violates both the equal protection clause and the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
The full text of Judge Hoch’s comments
Thank you Commissioner Amarso for putting together this afternoon’s rally. And thank you Mayor Triolo and all of the Lake Worth City Commissioners for your support.
Back in 2008, Floridians voted overwhelmingly to prohibit lesbians and gay men from marrying our partners. It was truly a sad day for our community.
But consider this. If Palm Beach County was an independent state, things would be different.
Thanks in great part to your efforts, more than a quarter of a million people in Palm Beach County voted against enshrining anti-LGBT discrimination in our state constitution. Locally we had the votes to kill the marriage ban.
However, since we have not (yet) seceded from Florida, lesbians and gay men in Palm Beach County – and throughout Florida – are prohibited from marrying our partners.
And unless 60% of Florida voters come out and vote to repeal the ban, we are stuck with marriage inequality. That’s the bad news.
The good news is, the United States Supreme Court has described marriage as a fundamental right fourteen times since 1888.
Therefore, it is inevitable that, sooner or later, the courts here in Florida will declare that the ban against lesbian and gay marriages is unconstitutional, as the ban violates both the equal protection clause and the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
As a lawyer who closely follows this issue in federal courts across America, I feel comfortable in predicting that before the end of June, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down all laws across the nation which prevent lesbians and gay men from marrying their partners.
While Floridians might have to wait for that Supreme Court ruling, it is also possible that that marriage equality may come to our state sooner.
Here in Florida, there are two lawsuits working their way through the court systems. The National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality Florida have filed suit in state court, which, if successful, would allow gay men and lesbians to marry their partners in Miami-Dade County.
Additionally, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the SAVE Dade Foundation have filed suit in federal court to force Florida to recognize those out-of-state, same-sex marriages which are recognized by the federal government.
We are honored that Palm Beach Gardens Firefighter/Paramedic Sloan Grimsley and her wife, child developmental care consultant Joyce Albu, are the lead plaintiffs in this lawsuit.
Across the nation, the Attorneys General in seven states – Oregon, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois and Kentucky – have refused to defend lawsuits addressing their states’ bans on marriage equality.
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council is asking you to contact Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and ask her to join these seven attorneys general and refuse to waste taxpayers dollars defending Florida’s marriage ban in federal court.
Biography of Judge Rand Hoch (retired)
Rand Hoch founded the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council in 1988 and served as the organization’s President until 1992. During that time, the Council was successful in having Palm Beach County extend protected status to gay men, lesbians and bisexuals in housing, public accommodation and county employment and in having the City of West Palm Beach extend basic domestic partnership benefits to City employees.
Rand served as Chairman Pro Tempore of the West Palm Beach Employment Practices Review Committee as a member of the Palm Beach County Ethics Advisory Committee and on the Boards of Directors of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Florida Consumer Federation, the Florida (Gay) Task Force, the Atlantic Coast Democratic Club, and the Palm Beach/Martin Counties Chapter of the ACLU.
Rand has also served as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee and as an Executive Committee Member of Gay and Lesbian Democrats of America. He has been a member of the Florida delegation to the Democratic National Conventions three times) and has attended thirteen Florida Democratic Party state conventions.
In 1992 Rand became Florida’s first openly gay judge when he was appointed Judge of Compensation Claims by Governor Lawton Chiles. During his judicial tenure, Rand served as President on Florida’s Conference of Judges of Compensation Claims, as Vice President of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Judges, as a member of the Volusia County Elections Advisory Board and as a member of the Editorial Boards of The Florida Bar News and The Florida Bar Journal.
When his term ended in 1996, Rand returned to his law and mediation practice in West Palm Beach. Since then Rand has served on the Board of Directors of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, COMPASS (Palm Beach County’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community center), the ACLU of Florida and the Florida Academy of Professional Mediators. Rand has also served on the Board of Trustees of Florida Stage (as Vice Chair and Secretary) and on the National Board of Accredited Mediators of the American Mediation Association. He has served as Chair of the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Community Advisory Committee and as a member of the Palm Beach County Cultural Council’s Business Committee for Culture. Rand is a Charter Member of Equal Opportunities Law Section of The Florida Bar and has served as the Section’s Legislative Committee Chair. He is also a founding member of the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion of the Florida Bar and the Palm Beach County Bar Association Committee for Diversity and Inclusion.
Rand resumed his service on the Board of Directors of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council in 2002 and was again elected president in 2006. During this tenure on the board, Rand’s efforts resulted in having Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, the Office of the State Attorney, the Office of the Public Defender, the Cities of Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and Lake Worth, the Villages of Wellington and Tequesta, the West Palm Beach Housing Authority, the Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority, and the Palm Beach County Bar Association extending protected status to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals; the School District of Palm Beach County protecting students from harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression; Palm Beach County and the City of West Palm Beach establishing domestic partnership registries; Palm Beach County, the School District of Palm Beach County, the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority, Florida Atlantic University, Palm Beach State College, the Palm Beach County Children Services Council, the Suncoast Utility Authority, the Cities of Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Lake Worth and Palm Beach Gardens, the Towns of Jupiter and Palm Beach, the Village of Wellington, the Clerk and Comptroller, the Tax Collector and the Property Appraiser extending domestic partnership benefits to their employees; Palm Beach County, the City of West Palm Beach, the Property Appraiser and the Tax Collector implementing tax equity reimbursement programs for employees insuring their domestic partners. To date, Rand’s efforts have resulted in more than 65 ordinances and policies being enacted to extend equal rights and benefits to the Palm Beach County LGBT community.
In recognition of his efforts, Rand has been awarded the Harriette S. Glasner Freedom Award; the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County’s Community Service Award; the Compass Public Service Award; the Florida Conference of Judges of Compensation Claims Outstanding Service Award; the Florida Workers’ Advocates Outstanding Service Award; the Spectrum Lifetime Achievement Award and the Hank Godley Memorial Award. He has also served on two occasions as the Grand Marshall of PrideFest.
A graduate of Georgetown University and Stetson University College of Law, Rand practices law and mediates employment disputes throughout Florida.
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