Capitol Alert: Effort to overturn transgender bathroom law down to the wire

jwhite@sacbee.comNovember 8, 2013 

Parents of Granite Bay High School students check for signs of smoking in the bathroom during lunch on Aug. 31, 1999.

SACRAMENTO BEE FILE

Proponents of a referendum to overturn a California law protecting transgender students are rushing to gather and deliver a final pile of signatures before their deadline Sunday.

The group Privacy For All Students sent out an email Friday morning estimating that it has the minimum number of signatures to qualify the measure but warning that organizers need tens of thousands more to serve as a buffer against signature challenges.

"What each of us does in the next day and a half will determine the outcome of this referendum qualifying effort, and it will reveal just how much we are willing to do in such a crucial battle," the email reads.

If backers collect at least the requisite 504,760 signatures, the Secretary of State's Office would then instruct county elections officials to run a random sample to determine what percentage of them are valid. The result determines whether a full check of signatures is required. If the referendum is qualified for the ballot, the law would be suspended until voters can weigh in.

Authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, the targeted law allows transgender students to use the school facilities, and sign up for the sports teams, that match their gender identities. Supporters cast it both as a needed protection for transgender students who endure bullying and ridicule and as a way to enshrine tolerance in the law.

Republican opponents denounced the bill as a radical measure that puts students in an awkward position and undermines the will of parents.

The proposed ballot measure isn't the only challenge from the right to new laws on the books. On Thursday, proponents were given clearance to begin collecting signatures for two proposed referenda to overturn two other measures.

The first, by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, allows nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwifes, and physician assistant to perform certain types of early abortions.

The second, by Assembyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, eliminates separate building standards for primary care clinics that offer abortions.

Backers have until Jan. 7 to submit petition signatures to county election officials.

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