Maryland’s highest court has endorsed Montgomery County’s plans for coed restrooms and showers, concluding that a challenge to the new law had to fail because there were not enough signatures on the referendum petitions to represent dead voters.
Opponents of the law say they are reviewing their options for continuing their challenge to the extraordinary law that essentially leaves private homes and private clubs as the only locations where a person would not have the “right” to use the restroom or shower room designated for whatever gender that person feels on that given day.
“The court’s ruling today is a loss for democracy, a loss for Montgomery County and a loss for common sense,” said Dr. Ruth Jacobs, president of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government.
The organization has been fighting the law since it was adopted by the county board last year in its campaign for “nondiscrimination” against individuals with “gender identity” issues. In that effort, the county failed to provide an exemption from the “nondiscrimination” law for locations of shared nudity, such as restaurant restrooms, community swimming pool shower rooms. Nor are there exemptions for religious organizations.
The opinion from the state Court of Appeals overturned a decision by a judge who found that voters should be allowed to determine the future of the “discrimination” ban.” The reasoning by the high court was available only through comments made during the hearing, since the actual court order is a terse two-paragraph demand that the circuit court order be overturned, and the “reasons” would “be stated in an opinion later to be filed.”
Circuit Judge Robert A. Greenberg previously concluded Bill 23-07, approved by the county board and signed into law by county executive Isiah Leggett, should be on the November ballot for voters, despite the wishes of Equality Maryland, an activist group for homosexuals, which did not want voters to have their say.
But the higher court’s ruling left its opponents stunned.
“The court ruled … that the [Board of Elections] should have included ‘inactive voters’ when calculating the number of signatures that were required to place the issue on the ballot. Months after the deadline for turning in signatures, the court increased the number of valid signatures required from 25,001 signatures to over 27,000,” the organization said, including the emphasis in its prepared statement.
Inactive voters are those who have failed to vote in two elections and have not responded to two letters from the government. Most are either dead or have moved out of state.
“We’re very disappointed with this court’s ruling, which suggests that, in America, every citizen does not have a voice,” said Amy Smith, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, which was working with MCRG. “[The] court decision sends a clear message that groups with narrow, extreme political agendas can disenfranchise the voters of an entire county.”
Jacobs said the citizens’ group collected more than the number of signatures set by the county for the referendum.
“Amazingly, Equality Maryland demanded that inactive voters who have likely died or moved out of state be considered in the calculation to determine the number of valid signatures needed. This simply demonstrates that they will go to any lengths to prevent living, breathing county residents from determining public policy,” Jacobs said.
The MRCG said Bill 23-07 specifically orders no discrimination based on “gender perception” in all “public accommodations.”
“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,” an analysis by the organization said.
MCRG 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.
Jordan Lorence, a senior counsel with the ADF, told WND the next step in the case is being assessed right now. He said the high court allowed the pro-homosexual activists to participate in oral arguments, but there were no arguments presented from those who oppose the special-rights law.
Jacobs told WND the right of voters to “act as a check-and-balance on their government has been thwarted.”
Not only was the number of signatures changed after the fact, a deadline for complaints to be filed about the referendum process apparently was ignored by the court, officials said.
WND previously reported county officials approved the sprawling expansion of their anti-“discrimination” law, sponsored by county council member Duchy Trachtenberg, D-At Large.
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 that shows an assistant to Trachtenberg apparently trying to intimidate petition signature collectors and would-be signers.
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.”