ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WNEW/AP) — An effort to repeal a bill banning discrimination against transgender people in Maryland has fallen short.

Backers of a petition to repeal the bill conceded Sunday that they gathered about 1,000 fewer signatures than they needed to get the issue on the November ballot.

The bill would ban discrimination against transgender people on matters relating to housing, employment, credit and use of public accommodations.

Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley signed it last month during his last bill signing as governor. He said in a statement Sunday that the measure is an example of Marylanders standing “on the side of fairness and progress.”

LGBTQ rights activists are also welcoming the initiative’s failure.

“Hearing that this failure happened for this referendum bid…it’s just very heartwarming and just makes me feel safer as a Maryland citizen,” said Jill Stromberg, Treasurer on the Executive Committee at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland.

“We finally get to really celebrate this momentous achievement!” said Equality Maryland’s Executive Director Carrie Evans in a press release.

Opponents claimed the bill would enable predators posing as transgender people to enter opposite-sex restrooms. Delegate Neil Parrott, a Washington County Republican, led the petition effort.

In a letter on the website for the petition, Del. Parrott wrote, “It is difficult to come this close and then fall short.”

“Delegate Parrott and the sentiments and efforts behind…overturning this bill: ignorant and it’s not backed up by data or legitimate concern,” responded Stromberg. “What’s sad is that the sentiment underlying this effort is not new or surprising for Maryland politicians.”

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WNEW’s Cameron Thompson contributed to this report. Follow him and WNEW on Twitter.

(TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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