Montgomery County Court Says Referendum Petition to Overturn a Transgender Protection Law Will Move Forward
Posted on August 3, 2008
Filed Under Gay News Blog
Lambda Legal and Equality Maryland Disappointed but not Discouraged.
(Maryland, July 24, 2008) — Today, the Circuit Court for Montgomery County said that a referendum petition seeking to overturn a law enacted by the Montgomery County Council that adds gender identity as a protected characteristic should be allowed on the ballot this fall.
The decision by Judge Robert A. Greenberg said, “…it is inescapable that five percent of the registered voters in Montgomery County…was not 25,001; it was 27, 615. Plainly MCRG did not gather enough signatures to meet the five percent threshold. Plaintiffs, however, judicially challenged the denominator too late.”
“The referendum is a drastic measure to block a law that was unanimously passed by the duly elected Montgomery County Council after extensive public hearings,” said Natalie Chin, Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal. “The court agreed with our arguments but said we didn’t make them soon enough. We disagree and will be seeking an appeal.”
On November 13, 2007, the Montgomery County Council unanimously passed an act adding gender identity as a protected characteristic under 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 to block the law from going into effect.
Lambda Legal, together with Equality Maryland, represented Montgomery County registered voters who oppose CRG’s flawed referendum effort to set back the clock on civil rights in Montgomery. In court papers filed on June 16, Lambda Legal argued that the Montgomery County Board of Elections used the wrong formula to determine the required number of signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot. Lambda Legal argued and the court agreed that the calculation was incorrectly derived from five percent of only “active” voters when state law requires counting ALL registered voters—resulting in a shortfall of hundreds of signatures. The antidiscrimination law under attack was unanimously passed after extensive public hearings.
“Strict compliance is supposed to provide safeguards for the vulnerable minority that the law is intended to protect and this ruling disregards those safeguards,” said Carrie Evans, Policy Director at Equality Maryland. “We are working with our attorneys to assess where we go from here. In the meantime, Basic Rights Montgomery, a broad-based coalition working to ensure this law remains in place, is in full swing.”
Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel, and Natalie Chin, Staff Attorney, are on the case for Lambda Legal. They are joined by lead attorney for Equality Maryland Jonathan Shurberg. Arnold & Porter LLP is serving as cooperating counsel to Lambda Legal.
This posting was automatically generated from a feed from Gay News Blog Read more….Lawsuit Alleges Errors In Anti-Trans Measure
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