Fight over transgender protections

Opponents of a Baltimore County transgender protections bill hold signs in Catonsville in 2012, arguing the bill would make bathrooms unsafe. Opponents of statewide protections for transgender people are using similar arguments as they attempt to put the new legislation to referendum. (Photo by Sarah Pastrana / May 8, 2014)

The board of directors of the state's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization has put its money where its mouth is when it comes to raising funds to defend the transgender protections legislation that passed the General Assembly this legislative session.

As part of a new "Growing Equality for Our Communities" fundraising campaign running now through the end of the year, the board of Equality Maryland says it will match all contributions up to $25,000.

"This is the first time I have ever known EQMD's Board of Directors to make this kind of challenge," wrote Carrie Evans, Equality Maryland's executive director, in a note to supporters. "And it couldn't happen at a more important time, as we are engaged in a public education campaign and gearing up for a petition fight -- and possible referendum -- on the Fairness for All Marylanders Act."

Del. Neil Parrott, a Washington County Republican who opposed the bill and backs the site MDPetitions.com, has said he is trying to gather enough petitions to put the legislation on the ballot. The group will need to collect more than 55,000 signatures by July to challenge the bill.

A diverse coalition of funders donated money to the organization in 2012 during the fight to defend same-sex marriage at the ballot, but some LGBT leaders have wondered whether the transgender bill will elicit the same support.

Equality Maryland's fundraising effort is here.

Elsewhere:

- Speaking of Maryland's transgender protections bill and the challenges to it, MSNBC's Ronan Farrow took on the issue on his show Friday, taking the state debate to a national cable audience. Farrow said Parrott's camp is using "scare tactics" to gather petition signatures. See the video here.

- The NFL draft begins today, and many have a curious eye cast on Michael Sam, the openly gay draft prospect, and how he will fare. He could spend three days waiting to get picked, and if he goes undrafted, as The Washington Post notes, the NFL "might have a public-relations problem on its hands."

- Here's an interesting piece by BuzzFeed LGBT foreign correspondent J. Lester Feder on LGBT people seeking asylum in Uganda, which Feder calls "the World's Most Notoriously Anti-Gay Country."

- This is making the rounds online: Some gays in NYC like Chick-fil-A. If nothing else, it's interesting to consider how advocacy interacts with the free market and people's taste buds, am I right?

What do you think about the effort to put the Fairness for All Marylanders Act to referendum? Should Maryland citizens have the right to vote on such protections? Let us know.