Judicial Jousting

Ruling by Montgomery Co. judge disappoints

Equal-rights advocates in Maryland say they are disappointed, but not discouraged, following a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge’s July 24 ruling in favor of Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG) and that group’s petition effort to put the county’s transgender-inclusive, anti-discrimination law to voters in November.

The law, unanimously approved by the County Council in November 2007, has not yet been implemented, awaiting either a judicial end to CRG’s challenge, or passage on the November ballot.

Equality Maryland, with Lambda Legal, a national gay-advocacy group; D.C.-based international law firm Arnold & Porter; and local attorney Jonathan Shurberg, filed a motion to appeal on Monday, July 28. ”The judge agreed with our argument that there were not enough [valid] signatures gathered… but then said we didn’t [challenge them] soon enough,” says Carrie Evans, policy director for Equality Maryland. ”That’s a weak basis for allowing a referendum that impacts the civil rights of people to move forward.”

Evans adds that one positive aspect to the proceedings is that with Election Day around the corner, Nov. 4, the appeals process should move quickly.

Montgomery County has to get ballots printed in time for November, and with time sensitive things like this the courts try to expedite the process,” she says, adding that the appeal may be taken directly to Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, bypassing the Court of Special Appeals.

Visit Equality Maryland online at www.equalitymaryland.org.

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