WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, announced it will contribute $20,000 to support Basic Rights Montgomery's fight to preserve a recently passed law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in the face of a possible ballot measure seeking to repeal the law. The announcement was made June 1 by HRC Board of Governors member Dr. Dana Beyer at Equality Maryland's annual gala event.
"We are pleased and proud to support Basic Rights Montgomery's important work in fighting an effort by the far right to repeal a law that protects residents of Montgomery County from discrimination," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "This law is about basic fairness and equality-it makes clear that no one should be denied the right to work, access to housing, access to public accommodations, or other rights simply because of who they are. The repeal effort is a misguided attempt to scare voters into turning back the clock on equality."
In November 2007, the Montgomery County (Maryland) Council voted unanimously to pass a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, and taxi and cable service. The measure was signed into law by County Executive Isaiah Leggett and was set to take effect February 21, 2008, but was put on hold when signatures were submitted in support of a petition to place a repeal measure before voters on this November's ballot. Twelve Montgomery County residents filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of signatures that were submitted, as well as the process used to certify them.
Montgomery County was set to join 13 other states, the District of Columbia, and over 100 localities that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. In April 2008, a group of Montgomery County residents, joined by Equality Maryland, the state's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group, as well as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, formed Basic Rights Montgomery to preserve the new anti-discrimination law and educate the public about the protections the law would provide. The campaign to repeal the law is led by Maryland Citizens for Responsible Government, a group whose efforts have been endorsed by the Family Research Council, a national far right group.
HRC members were among volunteers from Equality Maryland, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, TeachTheFacts, the National Center for Transgender Equality, NOW and other organizations, as well as law students, who have helped review signatures submitted in support of the proposed ballot measure. HRC's contribution will support Basic Rights Montgomery's general work. For more information on Basic Rights Montgomery please visit: www.basicrightsmontgomery.org.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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