April 29, 2014 at 6:09 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Md. lawmaker seeks referendum on trans rights bill

Neil Parrott, Hagerstown, Maryland House of Delegates, Republican Party, Annapolis, gay news, Washington Blade

Del. Neil Parrott (R-Hagerstown) (Photo public domain)

A Maryland lawmaker on Tuesday announced he plans to collect signatures to prompt a referendum on a bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in the state.

State Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) made the announcement on MDPetitions.com, a website that he runs. The Washington County Republican describes Senate Bill 212 or the Fairness for All Marylanders Act as the “Bathroom Bill.”

“As a parent, you should be able to send your children, your little girl, into the women’s bathroom and have the expectation that there will only be women or girls in that bathroom,” said Parrott during an Annapolis press conference. “Now, under this bill, there could be men in the women’s bathroom, and it opens the door for predators to take advantage of this bill. Predators will be able to go into the opposite gender bathroom, and proprietors would not be able to deny them access to that bathroom.”

Parrott is among the Republicans who unsuccessfully sought to delay the final vote on SB 212 in the Maryland House of Delegates late last month before lawmakers approved it by a 82-57 vote margin.

House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore and Harford Counties) joined the Washington County Republican at the Annapolis press conference.

“Please protect women,” she said before voting against SB 212. “Please protect little girls.”

The state Senate on March 4 approved the measure that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced earlier this year.

“Delegate Parrott will have an uphill battle to convince voters to repeal fairness for all Marylanders,” said Equality Maryland Director of Advocacy and Programs Keith Thirion, noting a recent poll showed 71 percent of Marylanders support SB 212. “The majority of Marylanders believe that everyone should be treated fairly, including having the opportunity to work for a living, secure housing and get served lunch at a restaurant.”

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer noted SB 212 “enjoys broad support across the political spectrum in Maryland.”

“The petition drive by Del. Parrott simply shows the desperation of a small group of right-wing zealots seeking to perpetuate old stereotypes,” she said.

“I am extremely disappointed that a small group of conservative activists launched a misguided and deceptive petition drive against including anti-discrimination protections for transgender Marylanders and their families in our civil rights law,” added Madaleno in a statement.

Nina Smith, a spokesperson for Gov. Martin O’Malley, reiterated to the Blade the governor’s support of SB 212.

“Governor O’Malley has a long track record of fighting injustice and protecting the rights of everyone equally under the law,” she said. “He fully intends to sign this bill.”

O’Malley is expected to sign SB 212 into law in the coming weeks.

Parrott needs to collect a third of the 55,737 signatures necessary to prompt a referendum on SB 212 by May 31. The remainder of them are due to state election officials by June 30 in order for the measure to appear on the November ballot.

Opponents of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law that O’Malley signed in 2012 collected enough signatures to prompt a referendum on the issue. Voters approved the statute by a 52-48 percent margin.

Parrott is among those who attended a Frederick rally in opposition to the same-sex marriage law that took place two days before the election. A local pastor said during the event that Superstorm Sandy struck New York City a few days earlier because then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave $250,000 to the campaign that successfully defended the statute.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

1 Comment
  • The Fairness for All Marylanders Act is a new state law that updates Maryland’s existing Civil Rights Law.

    Maryland currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of several protected classifications. These are personal characteristics that most people agree should not be relevant to whether a person is allowed to have a job, eat at a restaurant, rent an apartment, or qualify for a credit card.

    The Fairness for All Marylanders Act simply adds “gender identity” to that list of protected classifications.

    The definition of gender identity for this Act was proposed by the Republicans in Annapolis, and is consistent with the definition adopted by 17 others states.

    And it works; We’ve had these protections in several jurisdictions our state since 2002 without any of the ill effects claimed by those opposed.


    If you have questions about what this bill does, get the facts about the Fairness for All Marylanders Act by visiting


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