Lake Worth Expands LGBT Rights
(Lake Worth, Florida) — — At this evening’s meeting, Lake Worth City Commissioners unanimously voted to ensure that the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents and municipal employees will be protected from discrimination.
Focusing on the city’s power as a purchaser of good and services, city commissioners updated their procurement policy to ensure equal opportunity based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
To provide equal opportunity for municipal employees and applicants for employment, commissioners amended the city’s merit services policy to prohibit discrimination in municipal employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
They also updated the Lake Worth Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. (The Lake Worth Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment, has included sexual orientation and gender identity or expression since 2007.)
The three actions were taken at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), the County’s most prolific civil rights organization. Over the past twenty-eight years, PBCHRC has succeeded in having local public officials enact more than 100 laws and policies providing equal rights and benefits for LGBT people.
“While Lake Worth has received national attention as one of the most gay friendly places to live and do business in America, when our legislative team reviewed the Lake Worth Code of Ordinances, we found room for improvement,” said retired judge Rand Hoch, PBCHRC’s President and Founder. “Tonight, the Mayor and City Commissioners have taken steps to ensure that the rights of LGBT people are protected.”
Lake Worth City Commissioners Any Amoroso and Scott Maxwell, Mayor Pam Triolo, Commissioners Ryan Maier and Chris McVoy
Last year, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) launched the “Palm Beach County: You’re Welcome!” campaign to encourage municipalities to enact LGBT-inclusive civil rights laws.
“Our LGBT-inclusive laws will should help attract more jobs, revenue and resources to Lake Worth,” said City Commission Member Andy Amoroso.
To date, LGBT-inclusive ordinances have been enacted in most of the major municipalities in Palm Beach County, including Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Wellington and West Palm Beach.
“The notable exception is the Palm Beach Gardens,” said Hoch. “With a population of close to 50,000, including a significant number of LGBT residents, it is surprising that elected officials in Palm Beach Gardens steadfastly refuse to enact an ordinance which includes LGBT people.”
“When the Palm Beach Gardens Employment Practices Ordinance was enacted 1987, only race, color, religion, national origin and sex were included as protected classes,” said Hoch. “Our repeated requests for Palm Beach Gardens to enact a more inclusive civil rights ordinance have fallen on deaf ears.”
The human resources page on the City of Palm Beach Gardens web site does include an equal opportunity statement which indicates that the city does not discriminate in municipal employment on the basis of numerous protected classes, including, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
“By failing to enact an LGB T-inclusive ordinance, Palm Beach Gardens could well be missing out on significant economic opportunities,” said Hoch.
Last year Facebook selected the City of Fort Worth, Texas as the location of its new $1 billion data center. During the site selection process, Facebook’s representatives reviewed all of the ordinances of all of the cities they were considering.
“The existence of Fort Worth’s LGBT non-discrimination ordinance was a key factor in the company’s decision to build there,” said Hoch.