MD lawmaker's bid to force referendum on state's new transgender law fails miserably

A Maryland lawmaker's attempt to force a referendum on a recently signed state transgender law banning discrimination, was stymied after he collected less than one third of the signatures needed to be placed on the November ballot.

State Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County), emailed supporters telling them he was only able to collect 17,500 signatures of the 55,737 signatures needed before being submitted to state election officials before midnight Saturday night, according to The Washington Blade.

“So many people did so much and we are very grateful for your enthusiastic support,” said Parrott. “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.”

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity with regard to public accommodations, housing, and employment and by specified licensed or regulated persons, was signed into law by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on May 15, 2014.

"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."

The law , which goes into effect Oct. 1, will make Maryland the 18th state — along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico — to enact a statewide anti-discrimination law.

Parrott has not given up on overturning the law saying, "At this point, our next step is to find out who voted for this bill, and let them know our opinion."

He added, "This bill should be repealed in the next session, after the next election when many new legislators have taken office."

A Goucher Poll in March indicates 71 percent of Marylanders support the new transgender rights law.