“As a gay man who had a Palm Beach County law firm withdraw a job offer after I disclosed my sexual orientation, I know firsthand why the Equality Act is necessary.
Today’s vote is historic and I am elated that the Equality Act passed with bipartisan support. However, while I am encouraged by today’s vote, people must acknowledge that it has taken a very long time to reach this initial stage in achieving full equality for all LGBTQ Americans.
The efforts in Congress to amend federal civil rights laws to protect gay people from discrimination started forty-five years ago, when the late, great, Congresswoman Bella Abzug introduced the Equality Act of 1974.
Forty-five years ago.
Today is a day for LGBTQ people and our allies to celebrate our hard fought victory.
But we must be realistic. We must acknowledge that it is unlikely that the Equality Act will ever reach the floor of the Senate as long as Mitch McConnell remains Senate Majority Leader.
And if by some miracle the Equality Act ever reached the floor and passed in the Senate in this session, then President Trump would likely kowtow to the evangelical community and veto the bill.
Therefore, the LGBTQ and allied communities must work harder than ever to elect LGBTQ supportive candidates in 2020. Otherwise, we could be waiting decades before full equality for LGBTQ Amercans can be achieved.”
Judge Rand Hoch (retired)
President and Founder
Palm Beach County Human Rights Council
About Judge Rand Hoch
In 1988, Rand Hoch founded the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC). He served as the organization’s president through 1992 when he became Florida’s first openly gay judge, having been appointed to the bench by Governor Lawton Chiles.
During his judicial tenure, Hoch served as President on Florida’s Conference of Judges of Compensation Claims, as Vice President of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Judges, as a member of the Volusia County Elections Advisory Board and as a member of the Editorial Boards of The Florida Bar News and The Florida Bar Journal.
Hoch has on the Boards of Directors of numerous nonprofit organizations, including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Florida (Gay) Task Force, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, COMPASS, (Palm Beach County’s LGBTQ community center) and the ACLU of Florida.
In recognition of his efforts, Hoch has been awarded the Palm Beach State College Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award; the Harriette S. Glasner Freedom Award; the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County Community Service Award; the Compass Public Service Award; the Florida Conference of Judges of Compensation Claims Outstanding Service Award; the Florida Workers’ Advocates Outstanding Service Award; the Spectrum Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Hank Godley Memorial Award.
A graduate of Georgetown University and Stetson University College of Law, Rand practices law and mediates employment disputes throughout Florida.