Opponents of the recently passed transgender anti-discrimination law fell short of the 18,579 signatures needed by midnight Saturday in order to continue an effort to put the legislation on the November ballot.
Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, chairman of MDPetitions.com, announced his organization had only collected the signatures of 17,575 registered Maryland voters.
“It is difficult to come this close and then fall short, and yet we know that it was only through this effort that people became aware of the effects of this bill,” Parrott wrote in an email to supporters.
Parrott’s group needed to collect 18,579 signatures of registered state voters by May 31 and a total of 55,736 by June 30. Parrott said earlier this year that his group planned to collect 25,000 by the first deadline and an additional 50,000 by the final deadline.
Earlier this year the General Assembly passed the bill, which was later signed into law by Gov. Martin J. O’Malley, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.
Parrott and other opponents referred to the legislation as “the bathroom bill” and said passage would allow sexual predators to take advantage of the law and sneak into locker rooms and restrooms of the opposite sex.
O’Malley on Sunday issued a statement saying the failure of the referendum effort was proof that state residents “stand on the side of fairness and progress, and we will keep moving forward together.”
MDPetitions.com 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.