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Calif. must count rejected petitions in challenge to transgender rights law

Friday, January 3, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO — A judge in Sacramento ordered the secretary of state’s office on Thursday to add about 5,000 signatures to the 614,326 submitted by supporters of a proposed voter referendum that seeks to overturn a new California law guaranteeing certain rights to transgender students in public schools.

lgbt-students-schoolsSacramento County Superior Court Judge Allen Sumner issued a tentative ruling directing Secretary of State Debra Bowen to “accept, file, and process as timely” the qualifying petitions the referendum’s backers circulated in Mono and Tulare counties during the 90 days they had to collect signatures.

Bowen’s office had refused to tally them, saying they were not turned in by a Nov. 10 filing deadline.

But because Nov. 10 was a Sunday and the next day Veterans Day, a government holiday, the law’s opponents actually had until Tuesday, Nov. 12 to get their paperwork in, Sumner said. He also found that Privacy for All Students, a coalition of conservative groups, had made a good-faith effort to deliver the petitions by Nov. 10 but had been unable to because election offices in the two counties were closed.

“A construction limiting exercise of the voters’ referendum power would be against public policy,” the judge said. “The court sees no basis to effectively diminish the people’s referendum power here by giving petitioner only 88 days to collect signatures.”

Bowen’s chief of staff, Evan Goldberg, said the secretary of state would comply with Sumner’s order and allow it to become final without requesting a hearing.

Bowen had determined that the Sunday deadline was binding and disallowed signatures from the two counties because “this is how the law had been interpreted historically and how it was interpreted previously by the secretary of state,” Goldberg said. “This judge has interpreted it differently.”

Privacy for All is attempting to qualify a referendum for the November ballot asking voters to invalidate the new law, which took effect on Jan. 1 and is the first of its kind in the nation. The law requires public schools to let children use the sex-segregated facilities and participate in the gender-specific activities that correspond with their expressed identities.

Supporters maintain it is needed to provide statewide consistency and civil rights protections at a time when students are identifying as transgender at younger ages. Opponents argue that it exposes the classmates of transgender youth to potentially uncomfortable situations in restrooms and on sports teams.

Although the number of signatures at issue is small, the judge’s ruling could end up determining whether or not the referendum qualifies for the November ballot. To obtain a public vote on the law, passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown as the Student Success and Opportunity Act, about 505,000 of the total gathered by the referendum’s sponsors need to be valid.

Counties have until Jan. 8 to verify them through random spot-checking. Depending on how many are found to be valid through that process, the secretary of state will approve the referendum, determine that it failed or order a review of every signature.

As of Monday, the last day the information was updated, the effort was coming down to the wire; with results from six of California’s 58 counties still outstanding, just enough of the signatures were authenticated through random sampling to trigger a full count.

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30 more reader comments:

  1. Big let down clai! I hope we beat it in the election.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:07pm
  2. Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:15pm
  3. Does not sound good.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:20pm
  4. The judge made the right ruling. Now to deal with it at the polls. If it passes then the courts come back into play.

    If there are liberal initiatives that run into the same time constraints this ruling would benefit us as well. The law should be consistently applied even when we disagree with our opponents.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:23pm
  5. Except when it's obvious the ones pushing this referendum built their case on LIES!!!

    Replied on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 7:43pm
  6. Then we fight back with truth and use the courts when things turn south (that pun was intended). In this case the judge made the right ruling. If it was a liberal cause, we would be supportive and claiming victory. Now that there is precedent, California is a better place for citizen involvement in the process.

    Replied on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 2:06am
  7. I can't help but hope a full count of the signatures will find a fourth or more to have been forged. But otherwise I agree, Robert.

    Replied on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 3:18am
  8. Pls help the dream for my new LGBTQ clothing line become a reality. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/asonepride/as-one-pride

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:24pm
  9. Why would anyone be opposed to it?

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:37pm
  10. When do we get the signatures on a ballot initiative to remove the tax-exempt status of religions?

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:46pm
  11. I'll be the second to sign that one (since you'll be the first). TAX THE DAMNED CHURCHES!

    Replied on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:52pm
  12. And I'll be the third

    Replied on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 8:34pm
  13. Fourth

    Replied on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 9:03pm
  14. Churches don't help each other out. The Archdiocese looks like a big fancy mansion in my area & the churches in the Bronx, Mt. Vernon, & surrounding area look like they're going to fall apart. They have plenty of money to distribute to their church alliance members, so instead of buying gold-plated railings & statues, they should pay some damn taxes!

    Replied on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 12:43am
  15. Fifth.

    Replied on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 3:29am
  16. 6th i live not to far from a church and they have added on to the main part of the church and have stop using what was all ready there. have a basketball team but you have to be part of the church to join.there priest has anew fancy car and don't help any one out really only when they feel like it

    Replied on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 3:35am
  17. I'm not in CA. Hopefully someone in CA will start this. I think it would have a good chance of passing, especially since everyone's taxes would be drastically reduced.

    Replied on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 3:47am
  18. Count it as a win.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:53pm
  19. How awful!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 6:37pm
  20. USA, where even in the year 2014, there’s an option to vote on whether minorities should get to have basic dignity…*sigh*

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 6:39pm
  21. It will lose 60-40 in a vote.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 9:02pm
  22. Ekle Son Durumlari Begen Hemen Duvarindayim B| <3 :) :D <3 B| Ekle <3 :) ? 65

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 9:20pm
  23. Sad thing is, according to polling, the repeal effort would be successful if it was put on the ballot.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 11:55pm
  24. cute pansexual relationship video<3 watch this?:) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWiCBtdp_xA

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 4:47am
  25. What!!!!

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 7:06am
  26. :(

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 3:11pm
  27. florida is with you too my gay friends

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 5:20pm
  28. Good and fair move, Judge.

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 5:43pm
  29. if it’s put on the ballot, conservatives will only use lies and fear mongering tactics to win. just like prop 8. i’ll use whatever fucking restroom i damn well please. go fuck yourselves, right-wing hate groups.

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 5:46pm
  30. Just a little rap to get people thinking (and reading) about equality and human dignity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdAyGbmeGBg

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 7:25pm