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Lawsuit challenging an illegal referendum petition that attempted to overturn a transgender antidiscrimination law in Montgomery County, Maryland.


In 2007, the Montgomery County Council in Maryland unanimously passed a law adding gender identity as a protected characteristic under the county’s civil rights law in order to address discrimination against transgender individuals. A group calling itself Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG) sought to collect enough signatures on a referendum petition to block the law from going into effect. Lambda Legal and Equality Maryland argued that the number of signatures needed to put the referendum petition on the November general election ballot was insufficient and that the Montgomery County Board of Elections over-counted purported signature entries in violation of detailed statutes that safeguard the referendum process.


Transgender people experience discrimination every day, and many states’ discrimination policies are still not transgender-inclusive. It is important to protect civil rights laws like the one in Maryland that now includes transgender individuals.

Lambda Legal’s Impact

This case marked the first time that a stand alone transgender non-discrimination law was threatened to be overturned by referendum. The Court of Appeals victory confirms that strict compliance with legal requirements is necessary in order for a referendum petition to stop a duly enacted law from going into effect.