Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Montgomery Co. MD Trans Law FINALLY Takes Effect
TransGriot Note: Hallelujah! Some logic and reason got injected into this debate and the Montgomery County transgender rights law that passed unanimously finally takes effect almost a year after it was enacted. Now it's time to help our brothers and sisters defend their law in Gainesville, FL
Court upholds Montgomery Co. Trans Measure
Anti-discrimination law skips November ballot, goes into effect
By AMY CAVANAUGH, Washington Blade
Sep 9, 1:09 PM
The Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that Montgomery County's transgender anti-discrimination measure will not appear on the ballot this fall and must go into effect.
The court reversed today the decision of Circuit Court Judge Robert Greenberg, who had ruled that Equality Maryland missed the deadline to challenge petition signatures that were obtained by the conservative Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government.
That group petitioned to have the anti-discrimination measure put to voters on the Nov. 4 ballot, but Equality Maryland countered in court that some of the petition signatures were improperly obtained.
"The bottom line is that the court said a petition sponsor shouldn't be allowed to cut corners and circumvent legal requirements to get a referendum attacking minority protections on the ballot," said Natalie Chin, a Lambda Legal staff attorney. "We are very happy that this duly enacted law can take effect and protect a vulnerable group of Montgomery County residents."
The measure that Montgomery County officials passed last year prohibits "discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, cable television service and taxicab service on the basis of gender identity." It was unclear in today's ruling when the law would go into effect.
"We're thrilled that the rhetoric perpetuated by the Citizens for a Responsible Government has come to an end and the law can go into effect," said Dan Furmansky, Equality Maryland's executive director.
Furmansky said Equality Maryland was ready to explain to voters why the anti-discrimination measure was needed, "but it's better that our transgender brothers and sisters have these long overdue and vital protections immediately."
State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) also welcomed the court's decision.
"Today's ruling throws the question off the ballot and throws discrimination out of the county, blocking this mean-spirited end run around the democratic process," she said in a statement. "This is not just a victory for our GLBT community, but for fairness, justice and equality for all in Montgomery County."
Basic Rights Montgomery, a coalition of community leaders and organizations that were preparing to fight the anti-discrimination law, will now turn its attention to statewide protections.
"Basic Rights Montgomery was a campaign established to defend the law, so given that the law is no longer in peril, our energies and efforts will move into the realm of passing a statewide anti-discrimination law," Furmansky said.
(c) 2008 | A Window Media LLC Publication