SACRAMENTO, CA, March 28, 2014 ( – The backers of a failed statewide petition to place California’s controversial new transgender law on the ballot for a public vote have sued the secretary of state and a number of county officials demanding an explanation as to why more than 131,000 signatures were thrown out as “invalid” – including the signature of one of the petition’s sponsors.

The law in question allows students at California’s public schools to use the bathroom, changing room and other gender-based facilities of their choice, regardless of physical sex.  It also allows boys to participate in girls’ sports and other activities and vice versa, as long as the student says he or she “identifies” as the opposite sex.

Privacy for All Students (PFAS), a group based in Chino, collected more than 600,000 signatures on a petition to force the law on the ballot for a chance at repeal by voters.  Only 504,760 were required to force a referendum, but state officials threw out more than 131,000 signatures, claiming they were “invalid.” They threw out 14,000 in San Diego County and 13,000 in San Bernardino County alone.  As a result, the petition fell roughly 22,000 signatures short of the required goal – a loss so narrow that it triggered a mandatory recount, which narrowed the margin to roughly 17,000, but still below the required number.


The petition’s backers are now demanding documentation of what they say is the “abuse of discretion” county and state officials displayed in rejecting such a large number of signatures.

“We have served the Secretary of State with another legal action asking her to qualify the referendum and we have served county officials across the state with a demand for the documents to prove the abuse of discretion in rejecting more than 131,000 signatures,” wrote PFAS spokeswoman Gina Gleason in a statement.

One of the signatures rejected by officials in Sacramento County belonged to attorney Matthew McReynolds of the Pacific Justice Institute, another PFAS member who was instrumental in organizing the attempted referendum.

In a statement issued Tuesday, McReynolds wrote: “You read that correctly — a petition from one of the key backers of the referendum, more familiar than most with the rules, was not good enough to satisfy elections workers here in Sacramento County. So what did I do wrong? The explanation was that my signature didn’t look exactly like it had on my registration card.” 

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McReynolds explained that his signature has undoubtedly changed a little bit in the few years since the card was issued, due to having lost his eyesight during that time.   But McReynolds argued that “my disability shouldn’t prevent me from participating in such a core function of democracy as signing a referendum petition.”

“What’s really scary,” wrote McReynolds, “is that I only found out I had been disenfranchised because I am very involved in the massive effort by the Privacy for All Students coalition to examine the signatures that were invalidated.”

PFAS organizer Danielle Cullum reassured supporters that “the battle is far from over.”  

“After months of waiting, we now get to see why so many signatures were thrown out,” Cullum wrote on the group’s website. She urged supporters not to abandon hope.

“While we prepare for the legal battle ahead to have invalid signatures deemed valid, we should not lose sight of what we are fighting for,” Cullum wrote.  “Across the country, activists are intent on sexually integrating our children’s bathrooms and locker rooms.  We are told that this is necessary to relieve the discomfort of a few that are uncomfortable in traditional sex separate facilities.  But the much greater number that would have their privacy and safety compromised by this radical change are regarded as irrational or irrelevant.  And those that are fighting to keep bathrooms separate are labeled as hateful.”

Cullum wrote, “We are told that gender identity is more important than gender reality.  We are told that feelings trump anatomy.  While so many of us want to be compassionate to those that feel that biology has betrayed them, we can’t help but notice that we are living the modern equivalent of the Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Cullum said PFAS isn’t conceding defeat just yet.  “Privacy For All Students will keep fighting to see this referendum qualified for the November ballot.”


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