By Parker Marie Molloy
Originally published on Advocate.com May 15 2014 1:22 PM ET
Earlier today, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed into law the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, extending housing, public accommodations, and employment protections to transgender citizens and visitors of the state.
"We are closer today to creating an open, respectful, inclusive world that we want for all of our children," O'Malley said prior to signing the bill. "This bill gives us another step closer to that vision and to that reality."
When the law goes into effect on October 1, Maryland will become the 18th state — along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico — to enact a statewide antidiscrimination law.
The bill passed the state legislature in March, prompting a last-ditch effort from some conservatives to prevent the law from being implemented by mounting a recall effort, hoping that if the bill appears on the ballot, Marylanders will vote it down this November. Leading that recall effort is Republican Del. Neil Parrott, whose website MDPetitions.com began accepting signatures to defeat what he is calling "the Bathroom Bill," a well-worn tactic used by opponents of trans rights. The messaging that trans-inclusive laws will lead to "men in dresses" infiltrating women's restrooms has been loudly and definitively shown to be false.
Opponents of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act have until the end of May to obtain one third of the 55,737 signatures needed to trigger a referendum, and until the end of June to reach that total. In 2012, Parrott was successful in his effort to place Maryland's marriage equality law on the November ballot, though the law survived that referendum with 52.4 percent of voters affirming the law. Similarly, a March poll conducted by Goucher College reported that 71 percent of Marylanders support the Fairness for All Marylanders Act.