Fight Continues Over Transgender Anti-Bias Law

By Ann E. Marimow and Ernesto Londo¿o
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, February 7, 2008

Opponents of Montgomery County's new transgender law submitted their first batch of signatures this week for a referendum to overturn the protections approved by the County Council in November.

Michelle Turner, a spokeswoman for Citizens for a Responsible Government, said Monday that the group had collected at least 15,000 signatures.

To get on the ballot in November, sponsors are required to present the Board of Elections with 12,500 signatures Feb. 4 and another 12,500 on Feb. 16.

Montgomery followed 13 states, the District, Baltimore and 90 other local jurisdictions in banning discrimination against transgender people.

Leaders of Citizens for a Responsible Government, who also battled the public school's sex-education curriculum, contend that the law is written in such a way that biological males, for instance, would have access to women's restrooms and locker rooms.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who signed the measure into law, has taken issue with the group's assertion.

The legislation, he said, would not apply to such private facilities as showers or locker rooms.

"If you are in disagreement with this, that is your right," he wrote in an e-mail to the group's president, Ruth Jacobs. "However, you have an obligation to state the facts."

The county's Human Rights Commission compliance director has said the law allows the owner of a health club or swim club to segregate facilities based on biological sex.

But the group says the language is too vague.

"We want it very clear-cut," Turner said.

Council Meeting Too Short For Residents With Causes

The lobby of the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring was buzzing with civic activism last week in advance of the County Council's first town hall meeting of the year. There were bumper stickers and fliers for many a cause: Build the Purple Line! Don't Build the Intercounty Connector! Vote for Hillary Clinton!

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