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Transgender referendum may hinge on bathroom question
Opponents of a recently passed trangender anti-discrimination bill announce their intention to force the law to the 2014 ballot. (Courtesy: Del. Neil Parrott/MDPetitions.Com)

Transgender referendum may hinge on bathroom question

The success of a challenge to a transgender anti-discrimination law in Maryland may hinge on the so-called “bathroom question,” according to a new poll released by Rasmussen Reports.

“Americans generally favor laws like those recently passed in California and Maryland that ban discrimination against men and women who claim to be the opposite sex, but opposition increases dramatically when they are told these laws may allow biological men to freely use women’s public bathrooms and vice versa,” according to the poll published Tuesday.

The national survey of 1,000 adults found that 46 percent favor a law that bans discrimination based on gender identity when it comes to employment, housing and public accommodations compared to 34 percent that oppose, and  21 percent said they were undecided.

Gov. Martin J. O’Malley last month signed into law legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. Maryland’s law is similar to one recently passed in California. Both laws were subjects of the Rassmussen poll.

Opponents of the bill claim that the new law will allow sex predators access to women’s bathrooms and locker rooms. The group is already using imagery on signs that features a man peering over the side of a bathroom stall.

An effort to put the law before voters in a November referendum has already started. Opponents need to collect 18,579 valid signatures of registered state voters by May 31 and a total of 55,736 by June 30.

Supporters of the law say opponents are spreading misinformation about the new law.

A poll conducted in March by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College found that 71 percent of those surveyed supported adding protections for transgendered persons to the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

A similar anti-discrimination law was passed in Baltimore County in 2012. An effort to force that bill to referendum failed when opponents were unable to collect the required signatures.

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