Transgender citizens of Maryland were greeted with good news on Sunday, as the effort to repeal the recently passed Fairness for All Marylanders bill — legislation that expands the state's nondiscrimination protections to include transgender individuals — came up short, after the bill's opponents failed to collect the necessary 18,579 signatures needed by midnight Saturday to qualify the repeal for a referendum.
The bill passed the state legislature in March, and was signed into law last month, prompting a last-ditch effort from some conservatives to prevent the law from being implemented by mounting a repeal effort. Opponents of the legislation hoped that if the bill appeared on the ballot, Marylanders would vote it down this November.
Leading that recall effort was 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 is a demonstrably false notion.
"Thank you for your hard work," Parrott said Sunday in a letter to the bill's opponents. "After a huge push this week, we worked late tonight to collect and count all of the petitions that came in from all over the state. We counted just 17,500 valid signatures — about 1,000 signatures short of the first deadline requirement."
Later in his letter, Parrott reiterated the fearmongering falsehoods he's been hawking since launching the repeal effort in April, claiming, "'The 'Bathroom Bill' will let men in the women's bathroom and vice versa if they simply claim to feel like the opposite gender." Parrott also falsely claimed that similar laws in Canada have led to widespread sexual and physical assault in spaces of public accommodations.
"While it was gratifying to see this law pass the General Assembly and to watch the Governor sign it, we all knew that it was not a done deal until we saw whether opponents could muster up signatures," Democratic Sen. Richard Madaleno, author of the bill, said in a release. "I am grateful for the work that Equality Maryland and others did to help stop people from signing the petition. The time for attacking principles of basic fairness for Marylanders has passed."
The bill will go into effect on October 1, making Maryland the 18th state — along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico — to enact a statewide trans-inclusive antidiscrimination law.