Civil Rights Coalition Ready to Launch Education Campaign Following Failed Anti-Transgender Ballot Push
A coalition of California civil rights and LGBT organizations said today that supporters of a proposed anti-transgender ballot initiative announced that they have failed to submit the signatures necessary to qualify it for the November 2016 ballot.
“Privacy for All,” the group behind the failed measure, needed to submit 365,880 valid signatures to the California Secretary of State’s office to qualify for the ballot. “Privacy for All” is backed by the right-wing, Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute and other supporters of Proposition 8.
“All Californians – no matter their race, age, gender, or sexual orientation – should have the same freedom to support their families and go about their lives without fear of discrimination,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center. “This initiative was a poorly veiled attack on transgender people that sought to undermine that freedom and single out for harassment anyone who doesn’t meet stereotypes of what it looks like to be male or female. Today Californians have made clear these types of discriminatory attacks on transgender people and our families, communities, and neighborhoods have no place in our state.”
The so-called “Personal Privacy Protection Act” would have prohibited transgender people from using facilities in government buildings and requiring the government to monitor bathroom use. Supporters of similar efforts elsewhere fought ugly, divisive and deceitful campaigns that preyed on voters’ ignorance of what it means to be transgender.
“Opponents of LGBT equality use ignorance and fear as a weapon against the transgender community,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “We know from our research that many people don’t really even know what ‘transgender’ means. While our opponents failed to gather enough support this time, we know they will be back. Through our public education campaign, we will educate the public about transgender people, the challenges they face and the contributions they make.”
“Having lost the battle for marriage equality and having failed to qualify a similar ballot initiative several years ago, anti-LGBT extremists have failed once again in their attempt to legislate discrimination," said Dave Garcia, Director of Public Policy and Community Building at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “I’m relieved they couldn’t get the relatively low number of signatures they needed, but even if they had, I’m confident we would have defeated this measure. No one should fear harassment, interrogation or a lawsuit simply for using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.”
"The people of California saw our opponents' campaign for what it was -- a blatant effort to undermine the rights and freedoms of transgender people. By categorically rejecting such discrimination, Californians have affirmed their support for the equal rights and dignity of all people. We, like the people of California, are committed to continue working to ensure that cruel and senseless efforts against our fellow community members are always stopped in their tracks,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
To educate California voters about their transgender neighbors and to forestall similar, future efforts to target them at the ballot box, Equality California and the Transgender Law Center are leading a separate statewide public education campaign to combat widespread public misunderstanding about transgender and gender nonconforming people and the issues they face. The separate campaign includes other LGBT and civil rights organizations as well as groups serving communities of color and the faith community. The effort is independent of work on any political or legislative campaign and is aimed at creating understanding and acceptance of transgender Californians through research and education.
“Discriminatory ballot measures, and the campaigns they engender, serve the interests of no one except those who would demonize and exclude, to the detriment of California,” stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. “MALDEF hopes that this failure will discourage any others seeking to sow division within our state.”
The coalition against the ballot initiative consists of the American Civil Liberties Union of California, Equality California, the Human Rights Campaign, Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and Transgender Law Center, as well as a steering committee of organizations representing diverse communities throughout California.