An organization run by Del. Neil C. Parrot, R-Washington, will seek to overturn the recently passed transgender anti-discrimination law and place it before voters in the November General Election.
Parrott and Del. Kathy Szeliga, R-Baltimore and Harford, announced the effort Tuesday.
At issue is a bill passed earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Martin J. O’Malley that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.
Opponents say the law will allow sexual predators to take advantage of the law and sneak into locker rooms and restrooms of the opposite sex.
“The right to privacy in private facilities is null and void, under this bill,” Parrott said in a statement.
“As a parent, you should be able to send your children, your little girl, into the women’s bathroom and have the expectation that there will only be women or girls in that bathroom,” said Parrott. “Now, under this bill, there could be men in the women’s bathroom, and it opens the door for predators to take advantage of this bill. Predators will be able to go into the opposite gender bathroom, and proprietors would not be able to deny them access to that bathroom. Furthermore, that proprietor could be sued if he did deny them access. The bathroom rules that we’ve had and followed for generations are now null and void.”
Szeliga, the House minority leader, said the law “is so poorly crafted, and the unintended consequences demand we take it to referendum.”
Supporters of the law said they were disappointed by the misleading information used by Parrott and others.
“It is disappointing that anti-transgender activists are still telling Maryland citizens the same myths that fair-minded Maryland legislators have already seen through and rejected by a wide margin,”
said Jer Welter, Managing Attorney of FreeState Legal Project. “The reality is that the Fairness for All Marylanders Act does not weaken state law on ogling, indecent exposure, or sexual assault in any way. Delegate Parrott’s misleading comments about bathrooms would almost be comical if he weren’t using these scare tactics to confuse the public and oppose basic civil rights protections in employment, housing, services, and public spaces.”
Opponents of the law will use Parrott’s MDPetitions.com website to collect enough signatures to force the issue to referendum.
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.
In the effort to overturn the state law, Parrott’s group will need to collect 18,579 signatures of registered state voters by May 31 and a total of 55,736 by June 30. Parrott said his group plans to collect 25,000 by the first deadline and an additional 50,000 by the final deadline.
The group has so far not been successful in overturning laws at the ballot box despite successes in forcing laws to referendum.
In 2012, the group was able to place the so-called Maryland DREAM Act and same-sex marriage laws on the ballot but voters supported the laws in the General Election.
Last year, Parrott and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger joined forces in an unsuccessful attempt to collect enough signatures to overturn a law abolishing the death penalty in Maryland.