Delray Beach is a little closer to enacting a LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance, though not without a ton of legwork from Rand Hoch and the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council. On Tuesday, City commissioners voted 5-0 on first reading to enact a public policy that Delray Beach would officially oppose discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, genetic information, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, pregnancy, familial status, or age.
But the vote itself almost didn't go through, highlighting the extra work Hoch, president of the PBCHRC, and his group have to go through.
Hoch tells New Times that he and the group waited at the city meeting from 6 p.m. until just after 11, when the meeting was winding down and the once-overflowing crowd had dissipated to a handful of people. Every agenda was covered except the civil rights ordinance, until the very end. The commissioners were forced to extend the meeting in order to hold a vote.
"Deputy Mayor Al Jacquet voted against continuing — not because he was against our ordinance, but he just wanted to make a point that the meeting had gone on too long," Hoch says.
And while Delray Beach finally got closer to enacting an ordinance, the work remains a heavy load for Hoch and the PBCHRC.
Of the 28 municipalities in Palm Beach County, only four — Boynton Beach, Greenacres, Lake Worth and West Palm Beach - have enacted am LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance,
"There are 31 in municipalities in Broward, and two have LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinances," Hoch adds.
The two municipalities are Oakland Park and Wilton Manors.
In all, 57 counties and 394 municipalities across Florida have yet to move forward with prohibiting discrimination against the LGBT community, Hoch points out. "Clearly much work needs to be done," he says.
Part of the issue is that many think the LGBT community is covered in civil rights laws.
"Congress has refused to pass a bill since 1974, and Florida has failed to do so since 2007," Hoch says. "So all the work needs to be done on the local level — and it still isn't being done in so many parts of the state."
Hoch has been diligent in trying to get ordinances passed throughout the state, even while meeting with some form of resistance or another at times. In March, for example, Boynton Beach staffers confused the civil rights ordinance with an Equal Benefits Ordinance, which became an issue because the civil rights ordinance doesn't call for businesses to provide benefits.
Hoch had to scramble and send out emails to city officials to get the mistake fixed. Ultimately, the ordinance passed, though Mayor Jerry Taylor voted against it, citing a New Times article that he claimed featured some "derogatory comments" from Hoch.
As for Delray Beach, the PBCHRC has the mayor's backing.
"Delray Beach is a first-class city with a diverse community," Mayor Cary Glickstein says. "This ordinance lets people know that Delray Beach is open for business for everyone and that we oppose prejudice and discrimination of all kinds."
The final hearing to pass the ordinance will be on July 7.