Fifty six counties and 392 municipalities across Florida have yet to move forward with prohibiting discrimination against the LGBT community. But last night, Wellington — the largest village in Florida and the fifth largest municipality in Palm Beach County — unanimously voted to enact an LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance establishing that the city opposes 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.
Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), which has spurred several cities and municipalities across the state to pass similar ordinance, have been diligently working to persuade elected officials in Wellington to enact the ordinance. Delray Beach passed the ordinance in July, and the group hopes that Lake Clark Shores, and Palm Beach Gardens will soon join in.
The movement to get the ordinances passed across the state is part of the PBHRC's Palm Beach County: You're Welcome! campaign.
"The 'Palm Beach County: You're Welcome!' campaign encourages municipalities to enact LGBT-inclusive civil rights laws," PBCHRC President and Founder Rand Hoch says. "These laws will educate local residents and business owners of their civil rights and responsibilities. Moreover, the laws will help attract more jobs, revenue and resources to Palm Beach County."
Yet even as more and more cities and municipalities are joining in on passing the ordinance, there's still more work to do, Hoch says.
Florida lawmakers have yet to move forward with prohibiting discrimination against the LGBT community, Hoch tells New Times.
"Clearly much work needs to be done," he says. "Congress has refused to pass a bill since 1974, and Florida has failed to do so since 2007 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."
On August 11, Hoch presented a draft civil rights ordinance and urged the Village Council to enact it. By a vote of 4-1, the Council directed the Village Attorney to prepare an LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance for their consideration. Councilwoman Anne Gerwig cast the sole "no" vote. Having met with Hoch following the August 11 vote, Gerwig was persuaded to support the civil rights ordinance on Thursday night,
Following Thursday's vote Wellington joins Atlantic Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Dunedin, Gainesville, Greenacres, Gulfport, Key West, Lake Worth, Leesburg, Miami, Miami Beach, Oakland Park, Orlando, St. Augustine Beach, Tampa, Venice, West Palm Beach and Wilton Manors among the cities and municipalities that have enacted LGBT-inclusive municipal civil rights ordinances.
The PBCHRC says the Town of Lake Clarke Shores will be considering an identical LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance at their September 15 Town Council meeting.
"Much work remains to be done in our state," added Hoch.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.