Conservative group considers petition drive on Md. transgender protections legislation

A group that led efforts to petition three measures to Maryland’s 2012 ballot is considering a campaign to force a public vote on legislation that passed this week to extend anti-discrimination protections to transgender people.

In an e-mail Friday, Del. Neil C. Parrott (R-Washington), chairman of MDPetitions.com, asked supporters to take a survey on whether they want to see “this terrible bill” on the ballot.

“We have the option of petitioning the ‘Bathroom Bill’ to the ballot so that all Maryland voters can vote on it,” Parrott said in the e-mail.

The legislation, which cleared the House of Delegates on an 82-to-57 vote on Thursday, would extend protections to transgender people in the areas of jobs, housing and public accommodations. Parrott’s description of the legislation is related to the third category. It would allow a person who was born male to use women’s restrooms if that person identifies as female.

Under the Maryland constitution, recently passed laws can be petitioned to the ballot by gathering signatures from the equivalent of 3 percent of those who voted in the last race for governor.

MDPetitions.com — which pioneered the use of Web-based technology to collect signatures — played the lead role in 2011 on a ballot measure on extending in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants under certain conditions.

In 2012, the group was also instrumental in petition drives that put same-sex marriage and a congressional redistricting plan on the ballot.

All three measures appeared on the 2012 ballot and were upheld by Maryland voters.

Last year, Parrott’s group considered a petition drive on a gun-control bill championed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) but decided to support a legal challenge to the measure instead.

Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery), a supporter of the transgender protections bill, told reporters Friday that she is confident voters would support it if it appears on the ballot.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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