- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2016

A group challenging California’s transgender bathroom law won a procedural victory in court on Friday, coming one step closer to putting the issue of restroom and locker room access to a popular vote.

A Sacramento Superior Court judge granted a motion to compel 55 state counties to produce documents pertaining to signatures collected for a ballot initiative. The counties had previously resisted handing over the documents.

The legal dispute stems from a 2013 effort by Privacy For All Students, which collected more than 620,000 signatures to put the state’s new transgender bathroom law to a referendum, but was deemed to be 17,276 signatures short after more than 100,000 were invalidated.

“We believe we hit the threshold, over 500,000 that we needed to be valid,” said Privacy for All Students spokeswoman Karen England. “But we came up, according to the state, around 15,000 short.”

Ms. England said when the group went to review the invalidated signatures, the first one they came across was improperly thrown out.

“The very first one that said ‘not registered’ and had been thrown, had been a registered voter since 2010,” she said. “And they said, ‘Oh, this was just a mistake,’ but we were finding that everywhere we went.”

The group sought to review the credibility of other disqualified signatures, but has been stonewalled for several years by counties refusing to turn over relevant documents.

“They’ve been saying we can’t give you your own petitions back, because that’s private information – which is pretty weak because we’re the ones who gave them that private information,” Ms. England said.

Ms. England said California is afraid to put the measure on the ballot, pointing to a Houston bathroom ordinance that was overwhelmingly shot down by voters, despite having the backing of Mayor Annise Parker, the city’s first lesbian mayor.

“We did polling that we released early on, and it shows that Democrats, Republicans, Independents all agree on this issue when it comes to privacy,” Ms. England said. “They want transgender students accommodated, but they don’t believe in mixing biology. That is just way too far.”

California in 2013 passed a law requiring public schools to grant transgender students access to the restrooms, locker rooms and sports teams of the gender with which they identify.

In California, once a referendum receives enough signatures to go on the ballot, the law in question is put on hold until the vote takes place.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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