A judge has ruled that voters in Montgomery County, Md., will be allowed to determine the future of a “discrimination” ban that family advocates say simply opens up all public facilities, including restrooms and locker rooms, to individuals of either sex, depending upon their “gender identity.”
“Like all American citizens, Maryland voters have the right to have their voices count,” said Amy Smith, a litigation attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is arguing the case.
“Justice was served … as more than enough valid signatures were collected for the petitions, and the plaintiffs clearly failed to file their suit before the statute of limitations expired,” she said.
As a result of the ruling from Circuit Judge Robert A. Greenberg, the fate of Bill 23-07, which was approved by the county board and signed into law last year by the county executive, will be put on the ballot in November for voters to review.
Equality Maryland, an activist group for homosexuals, had challenged the right of 900,000 Montgomery County voters to determine the future of the law.
“We’re disappointed, but the court concluded that we were right, but were too late in filing,” Equality Maryland lawyer Jonathan S. Shurberg told the Maryland County Gazette.
He said he will file an appeal.
The activist group Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government, or MCRG, issued a statment noting that the bill, “while including gender identity into the existing public accommodations non-discrimination code, did not provide an exemption for places of shared nudity.”
“Bill 23-07 still includes public accommodations, and public bathrooms and locker rooms fall under ‘public accommodations,’” the group said. “The existing non-discrimination code, which Bill 23-07 amends, was written over 20 years ago. The existing non-discrimination code desegregated bathrooms, buses, restaurants and all kinds of public accommodations. Montgomery County points at the ‘distinctly private and personal’ existing part of the code (which precedes Bill 23-07 by 20 years) and implies that it somehow was written with bathrooms in mind.”
Critics said the bill also has no exemption for religious organizations or educational institutions, no exemption for renters looking for roommates and the definition of gender identity is so broad, it would allow cross-dressers to be included.
WND previously reported county officials approved the sprawling expansion of their anti-”discrimination” law, sponsored by county council member Duchy Trachtenberg, D-At Large.
MCRG has documented the law defines gender identity as “an individual’s actual or perceived gender, including a person’s gender related appearance, expression, image, identity, or behavior, whether or not those gender related characteristics differ from the characteristics customarily associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.”
“This means that a male appearing as or perceiving he is a female, regardless of his DNA, anatomy, and chromosomal makeup, could gain the legal right to call himself a woman, and use the woman’s facility in any public accommodation,” the group said.
The group further argued the law could violate the privacy rights of the county’s 500,000 women and children, since the county’s public accommodations code would be revised to read:
“An … agent … of any place of public accommodation in the county must not, with respect to the accommodation: … make any distinction with respect to … race, color, sex, marital status, religious creed, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity in connection with … use of any facility,” the organization said.
Since accommodations already are defined in the code as “restaurants, hotels and motels, retail stores, hospitals, swimming pools,” and “facilities” include “restrooms and locker rooms,” the only place that would be excluded would be areas that are “distinctly personal and private,” such as private homes and private clubs.
County officials have told WND they have interpreted the law to mean that showers and restrooms would be excluded.
But Theresa Rickman, a founding MCRG member, argues, “With all due respect, if one accepts the council’s assertion that the ‘gender identity’ law does not cover bathrooms, one would also have to accept that the county’s public accommodations code never intended to racially desegregate bathrooms. Race and gender identity are both listed in the same sentence.”
WND also has reported on the implementation of a similar plan in Colorado that would encompass the entire state. Critics have accused Gov. Bill Ritter of paying off wealthy homosexual political supporters with his decision to sign the plan into law.
The Maryland pro-family organization also has publicized a YouTube video it explains shows an assistant to Trachtenberg falsely telling petition collectors and would-be signers they would be asked to leave a Giant food store’s sidewalk during the signature-gathering process.
The video shows the person telling volunteers, “An e-mail went out; you’re going to be asked to leave. Any petitions gathered today are illegal.”