Boynton Beach Gives Initial Approval to Gay-Inclusive Civil Rights Ordinance

Boynton Beach City commissioners unanimously approved, on first reading, for the city to adopt a civil rights ordinance. The ordinance would establish that Boynton Beach opposes discrimination based on race, nationality, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity, among factors.

It's another progressive move by the city that has steadily been pushing for equal rights across the board, particularly for the LGBT community.

Last year saw Boynton Beach extending benefits to city employees with domestic partners or same-sex spouses.

"The Civil Rights Ordinance passed on first reading last night covers everyone living and doing business in Boynton Beach," Palm Beach County Human Rights Council President Rand Hoch tells New Times. "It's basically a comprehensive statement of public policy that says the City doesn't tolerate discrimination and it directs people to the laws where they can seek enforcement."

Hoch, Florida's first openly gay judge, and the HRC have been pushing the city to move toward ordinances that made things equal for all. Hoch founded the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council in 1988 and has served as the group's president since 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.

And while Boynton Beach is now in the game, it hasn't been without some resistance.

When voting for the civil rights ordinance last year, which included extending medical, dental, and life insurance as well as giving city employees family sick leave, bereavement leave, and family medical leave, Boynton Beach Mayor Jerry Taylor expressed his religious reasons for giving the one dissenting vote.

Taylor said at the time that his reason for voting against it was because the way the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines marriage is not in accordance with gay marriage.

"Jerry Taylor needs to get a more current dictionary," Hoch told New Times. "I Googled the Merriam-Webster dictionary's definition of marriage on the internet, and the online definition included 'the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage.' But then, I doubt Mayor Taylor's dictionary includes the words 'Googled', 'online' or even 'internet.'"

As for the LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance, the final vote required to enact it will take place on March 3.

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