At a meeting Monday night, the Greenacres City Council enacted an ordinance that directly opposes discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, genetic information, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, pregnancy, familial status, or age.
The ordinance, which had been proposed by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, was passed unanimously. The PBCHRC has been pushing to have such ordinances enacted across the state.
PBCHRC board member Meredith Ockman led the way to have the ordinance enacted in Greenacres.
“The Greenacres City Council made the city a safer and more welcoming place for LGBT people to open businesses, buy homes, and simply be ourselves," says Ockman. "The city's leaders made it clear that everyone is valued for the diversity they bring to Greenacres."
Rand Hoch, Florida's first openly gay judge, founded the PBCHRC in 1988 and has been pushing towns throughout the state to move toward ordinances that make things equal for all. He became president of the group in 2006.
Since then, Broward, Palm Beach, and several other counties and cities throughout the state, including West Palm Beach, have passed LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinances.
West Palm Beach, for example, approved an equal benefits ordinance for gay and lesbian city workers as well as an extension of a full range of domestic partnership benefits, including health, dental, and vision insurance, for its municipal employees.
Leon, Monroe, Pinellas, Volusia counties, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Gainesville, Gulfport, Key West, Miami Beach, Orlando, and Tampa have also enacted similar policies.
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But Hoch knows there's more work to be done.
"While the nation is rapidly moving forward on recognizing lesbian and gay relationships, Florida still lacks any statewide laws providing equal protection to LGBT Floridians," says Hoch. "Until Congress or the Florida Legislature take action, local LGBT advocacy rights organizations such as PBCHRC must continue to work with county and municipal leaders to protect our community form discrimination.”
Greenacres City Councilwoman Paula Bousquet has been working with the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council on diversity issues for several years.
"In this ever-changing political climate, it was important for Greenacres to demonstrate our continuing commitment to our residents and employees by codifying and expanding our laws and policies," said Bousquet in a statement through the group.