ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a measure to stop discrimination against transgender people at his last bill-signing ceremony as governor, but opponents say they will try to have the new law rescinded at the ballot box in November.
The measure prohibits discrimination on matters relating to housing, unemployment, credit and use of public accommodations.
"We are closer today to creating that open, respectful, inclusive world that we want for all of our children," O'Malley said before signing the bill.
The measure prohibits discrimination based on gender identity. A transgender person identifies or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to the person's sex at birth.
The law would take effect on Oct. 1. However, a group of opponents contends the measure would enable predators posing as transgender people to enter opposite sex restrooms.
While there are 16 other states have laws protecting transgender people from discrimination, opponents say Maryland's measure goes further than most. Del. Neil Parrott, a Washington County Republican who heads MDPetitions.com, said Maryland would be only one of three states that allow individuals to go into the bathroom of the opposite sex.
"There are a lot of people who are very concerned about this bill," Parrott said.
Opponents will need to collect 18,579 signatures by May 31 and a total of 55,736 signatures by June 30 to get a referendum on the ballot for November's election.
Sen. Richard Madaleno, an openly gay senator who sponsored the bill, said opponents were misrepresenting the impact of the legislation.
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