SACRAMENTO, May 23, 2016 /Christian Newswire
/ -- A week after the Obama Administration issued "guidance" to public schools that would result in students being exposed in bathrooms, showers and locker rooms, a court in California handed a victory to the proponents of a referendum to overturn that state's own "bathroom law."
On Friday, a Superior Court judge in Sacramento granted a motion to compel the production of documents requested by proponents of a referendum to overturn AB 1266. The Secretary of State and 55 counties had resisted production of these documents, citing privacy concerns.
"Today the court gave us a roadmap that we believe will ultimately allow us to prove that the necessary signatures were submitted to qualify the referendum," said Kevin Snider, Chief Counsel for Pacific Justice Institute. "We are pleased that the court rejected attempts by elections officials to prohibit access to this necessary information."
Before bathroom access became a national issue, California passed a statute that would allow access to public school facilities based on gender identity as opposed to biological sex. In the 90 days that followed passage of the law in August of 2013, Privacy For All Students (PFAS) collected more than 620,000 signatures of registered California voters to qualify a referendum to overturn the new law.
But elections officials disqualified more than one in five of the signatures leaving the referendum effort 17,276 signatures short of the requirement to qualify for the ballot. PFAS has been in court for more than two years, battling scores of government attorneys trying to withhold both the disqualified names and the reason for their rejection.
Gina Gleason, proponent of the referendum and member of the PFAS executive committee, was pleased with the outcome of Friday's hearing but was critical of government efforts to keep the referendum off of the ballot. "It is difficult to miss the irony of elections officials using privacy as grounds for opposing production of evidence to back their claims," said Gleason. "Privacy For All Students sought to qualify this referendum to protect the privacy of school children threatened with unwanted exposure under the new law."
In the matter heard Friday, backers of the referendum asked the court to compel Kings County to produce documents related to the invalidation of signatures, including the petitions submitted in support of the referendum. Objections to production of the requested petitions are based on concerns of privacy and confidentiality of voters' records, even though the party seeking these petitions possessed and controlled the petitions up until they were turned over to the counties to be counted. Kings County was a starting point as it is expected that petitioner will return to court to have other counties similarly compelled to produce these documents.
In addition to granting the motion to compel production of the requested documents, the court issued a protective order to assure that documents produced were treated as confidential.
Karen England, a privacy advocate and member of PFAS's executive committee noted, "The people of California object to bullies in bathrooms and bullies in elected office. We are now one step closer to maintaining privacy for all students in public school bathrooms, showers and locker rooms."