by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
What a difference a week makes!
On November 11, Frank Schubert, master strategist for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), announced he had submitted more than enough signatures to qualify a referendum on California's new law protecting Transgender students.
The law, named the School Success and Opportunity Act, made California the first state in the country to require its public schools to allow Trans students access to whatever restroom, locker room, or sports team they identify as appropriate for them.
The new law gave students the right 'to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities' based on their self-perception and regardless of their birth gender.
Schubert had until November 22 to submit some 505,000 valid signatures in order to qualify his referendum for the November 2014 ballot. Schubert said he was turning in more than 613,000.
However, state election officials said on November 25 that it appears the measure will not qualify. An unusually large number of invalid signatures will probably keep the referendum off the ballot.
As of November 22, the petition signatures showed only 75% authenticity in the random samples used by election officials to gauge whether the referendum can qualify. That is significantly below the authenticity rate that would allow the measure to go on the ballot for a vote.
John O'Connor, executive director of Equality California, said he believes 'it's unlikely [but] not impossible' that the measure will come to a vote, given the signature validation rate at this point.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, also said she was optimistic that the effort to repeal California's Trans student protections will fall short.
'While we wait for the official results of the signature verification, we're optimistic that, because of our friends in California, the ballot initiative will fail,' Keisling said.
'The Transgender Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Equality California, among others, moved quickly to counter the repeal effort. And what we've shown is that campaigning against Transgender kids won't win in California or anywhere else.'
While a referendum on the law is probably now off the table, Schubert could still present an initiative repealing it, or a state constitutional amendment barring laws protecting gender identity.
O'Connor said he doesn't know if opponents of the law will pursue this course, but noted it'll be more difficult as time goes by.
'The fact that the clock has been ticking and they're losing time right now, it's curious to me, it makes me wonder what they're up to,' O'Connor said. 'It makes me uncertain whether they will or they won't.'
A ballot initiative would also require about 505,000 signatures to get on next November's ballot, and a constitutional amendment would require more than 807,000.
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