FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: GRMD Statement on Maryland SB212 Referendum Efforts
Laurel, MD – April 30, 2014 – Gender Rights Maryland (GRMD), the state's only organization dedicated solely to the protection of civil rights for transgender individuals, learned today that right-wing Delegate Neil Parrott has begun the process of collecting signatures to take Senate Bill 212 to referendum. The newly enacted law adds "gender identity" to the state's laws regarding equal treatment in the areas of public accommodations, housing and employment.
GRMD board member and Legislative Committee chairman Jonathan Shurberg, an attorney, has agreed to represent the interests of the statewide law in the event the bill's opponents submit signatures to the State Board of Elections. Shurberg, currently a candidate for the House of Delegates from District 20, is the state's foremost legal advocate on referendum issues. In 2008, he successfully argued to keep a 2007 Montgomery County gender identity law off the ballot. He has also advocated for the bill in Howard and Baltimore County, as well as on behalf of the statewide bill from 2008 until its eventual passage this year.
Any legal campaign against the referendum will not begin until late July, after the primary election and after the State Board has certified all signatures submitted by the referendum proponents.
GRMD Executive Director Dana Beyer expressed confidence that the new law will go into effect as scheduled on . "This law enjoys broad support across the political spectrum in Maryland. The petition drive by Delegate Parrott simply shows the desperation of a small group of right-wing zealots seeking to perpetuate old stereotypes." Beyer added, however, that GRMD will employ all available strategies to defeat the referendum effort. "Even successful political campaigns have extraordinary costs. If we can defeat this effort in court, we will. But one way or the other, we're going to win."
Contact, Sharon Brackett, Board Chair GRMD, 301-476-0622