On Monday night, the City of Boynton Beach enacted an LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance that establishes that the city opposes discrimination based on, among other things, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, marital status, pregnancy, familial status, or age. Also included are sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The ordinance, which had originally been proposed by LGBT-rights advocates Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, passed with a 4-1 vote, with Mayor Jerry Taylor voting against.
And, according to PBCHRC President Rand Hoch, Taylor singled out Hoch as his reason for voting against the ordinance.
"Taylor specifically said that the reason he voted against it was because of derogatory comments in an email which PBCHRC sent out," Hoch tells New Times.
The so-called "derogatory comments" in question were from an email blast sent out by the PBCHRC that linked to this February 18 article about the Boynton Beach ordinance. The article mentions that, in 2014, Taylor gave his reason for voting against benefits to employees with domestic partners or same-sex spouses by referring to his religious beliefs and by saying that the Merriam-Webster dictionary's definition of marriage was between a man and a woman.
Hoch believes Taylor received the email but didn't read it fully or correctly. Hoch brought up the use of the dictionary as Taylor's reason for voting against last year's LGBT spousal benefits, but Taylor believes this was done to call him out on this year's civil rights ordinance, Hoch says.
"Mayor Taylor thought I made fun of him after he voted correctly at the last meeting when, in fact, I poked fun at him last year when he first voted against domestic partnership benefits, based on his opposition to gay marriage," Hoch says. "It was obvious last month that he did not review the proper backup prior to speaking out against the LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance. [Monday night] it was obvious that he didn't fully review the email."
The specific part of the article Hoch says Taylor points to was this:
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.
Hoch says Taylor was confused by the email and by reading the incorrect backup of the civil rights ordinance and voted against, as Hoch puts it, "an LGBT rights law."
"At least he was comfortable keeping his decades-long career of voting against gay rights intact," Hoch adds.
The incorrect backup was an issue Hoch helped correct. On Monday, New Times reported that Hoch had noticed that the backup for the agenda of the proposed civil rights ordinance was incorrect, and he sent out multiple emails to the city to correct the error. It was because of this error that Taylor initially voiced his support for the ordinance, Hoch says. The city eventually corrected the mistake, and Boynton Beach City Attorney Jim Cherof explained that it was inadvertent. The correction was made on the morning of the vote.
"Taylor flip-flopped," Hoch explained. "He first spoke out against it, was then corrected at my insistence by the city attorney, and then he voted for it. Monday night, he flipped back and voted against the ordinance."
Still, the ordinance was passed, and Hoch says that's all that matters now.
"After decades of opposing LGBT equality, the City of Boynton Beach has passed an LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance," he says. "That's more important."