Maryland Court Overturns Attempt to Roll Back Transgender Protections
The hotly contested transgender equality issue recently came to a head in Maryland. The ruling will become a cornerstone of GLBT unity. All members of our GRAND community selflessly united on behalf of fairness equality and justice!
Montgomery County transgender nondiscrimination law protected from repeal effort
September 09, 2008
Roberta Sklar, Communications Director
We are thrilled to have our work and the work of our partners in Maryland vindicated. We were honored to help the Montgomery County LGBT community build a strong campaign from the ground up and see that building grassroots political power — and winning — is more than possible. We knew that there were not enough valid signatures collected and we are proud to have stood side by side with Equality Maryland, Basic Rights Montgomery, our legal partners and many volunteers to mount this legal challenge to the repeal effort. Had the measure reached the ballot, we are sure the fair-minded voters of Montgomery County would have rejected it as an attack on fundamental rights. We are excited that LGBT people in Maryland can now focus their efforts on passing a statewide ban on anti-transgender discrimination.”
— Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 8, 2008
Victory in Maryland: High Court Rules for Challengers to Illegal Referendum Petition That Attempted to Overturn a Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law
Dan Furmansky, Executive Director
Annapolis, Md. – In a one paragraph order issued today, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a challenge to a referendum that attempted to block a unanimously enacted transgender protection law.
“We’re pleased with this victory. The court ruled in our favor in our challenge to this improper referendum,” said Natalie Chin, Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal. “Though the order was brief we feel confident that we’ve stopped this referendum from being on November’s ballot.”
The court indicated that they will be releasing an opinion at a later time.
On November 13, 2007, the Montgomery County Council unanimously passed an act adding gender identity to the county's civil rights law in order to address discrimination against transgender individuals. A group calling itself Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG) sought to collect enough signatures on a referendum petition to block the law from going into effect. Lambda Legal, together with counsel retained by Equality Maryland, represented concerned Montgomery County registered voters who opposed CRG's flawed referendum effort to set back the clock on civil rights in Montgomery County. Lambda Legal and Equality Maryland argued that the number of signatures needed to put the referendum petition on the November general election ballot was insufficient and that the Montgomery County Board of Elections over-counted purported signature entries in violation of detailed statutes that safeguard the referendum process.
"This long overdue, crucial law is all about assuring that unchecked bias is not allowed to inhibit our neighbors' abilities to make a living or rent a home, and as a Montgomery County resident, I breathe a sigh of relief that this campaign to roll back anti-discrimination protections is now over," said Dan Furmansky, Executive Director of Equality Maryland. "While we are confident the voters of Montgomery County would have voted against rolling back this law, , it is far better that our transgender brothers and sisters be spared the rhetoric that the referendum proponents have subjected them to over the past year. Equality Maryland thanks Lambda Legal, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the law firm of Arnold and Porter, and the many volunteers who came together to assure that our laws in Montgomery County are on par with the 100 other jurisdictions nationally that protect residents from discrimination on the basis of gender identity."
Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel, and Natalie Chin, Staff Attorney, are on the case for Lambda Legal. Jonathan Shurberg, lead attorney for Equality Maryland, argued the case. The case is Doe et al. v. Montgomery County Board of Elections.
Equality Maryland is Maryland's largest LGBT civil rights organization, focused on making life better for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens of Maryland. Equality Maryland works to secure and protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Marylanders by promoting legislative initiatives on the state, county and municipal levels and educating the public about the issues faced by our diverse community.
Washington Post's articleWashington Post's article;
"Jonathan Shurberg attorney for Equality Maryland, which led the challenge of the ballot initiative, said the court's decision ensured the integrity of the referendum process."
"The court gave a ringing endorsement to the principle that ordinary citizens have the right to challenge and test the validity of a petition submitted to referendum," Shurberg said.
Lambda Legal Victory in Maryland "We're pleased with this victory. The court ruled in our favor in our challenge to this improper referendum," said Natalie Chin, Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal.
Human Rights Campaign's Human Rights Campaign's $20,000 Contribution to Basic Rights Montgomery to perserve the transgender equality law.
HRC’s Recent Transgender-Related Work