New lies: Anti-LGBT sites assert courtroom victory and claim California trans law is now on hold

It all began with the Media Matters “Misinformer of the Year” winner, the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) issuing a press release claiming that because they turned in 600k+ signatures (some valid, some demonstrably not), the California law codifying protections for trans children was put on hold:

PJI-BSPJI compounded their campaign of lies by then giving the false impression that they had won a courtroom legal fight against the California Secretary of State:


After calling the California Secretary of State, the Attorney General and Governors office, I feel confident in offering you the following facts:

  • As of January 1st, AB 1266 is in full force.
  • As of today, the repeal of AB 1266 by PJI and partners is failing.
  • As of today, no court has issued any binding ruling against the Secretary of State.
  • As of today, no court has issued an order making the signatures PJI turned in while country offices were closed for Veterans Day valid.

For the initiative to quality for the ballot and place the law on hold until voted on in November 2014, at least 95% of 504,760 signatures must be valid. As of today, this is their validity rate:


After almost half of all their signatures were reviewed, only 78% of the signatures were found to be valid. Here’s a description of how the referendum process works:

If the raw count of signatures equals 100% or more of the total number of signatures needed to qualify the initiative measure, the Secretary of State notifies the county elections officials that they will have to randomly sample signatures for validation, to ensure petitions were signed by registered voters. If the result of the random sample indicates that the number of valid signatures represents between 95% and 110% of the required number of signatures to qualify the initiative measure for the ballot, the Secretary of State directs the county elections officials to verify every signature on the petition. This process is referred to as a full check of signatures. If the total number of valid signatures is less than 95% of the number of signatures required to qualify the initiative measure, the initiative measure will fail to qualify for the ballot. If the number of valid signatures is greater than 110% of the required number of signatures, the initiative measure is considered qualified without further verification. Spreadsheets containing the progress of an initiative in the signature verification stage are updated regularly. – California Secretary of State

If you’re still unsure how this process works, California has issued a detailed manual.  Recall that PJI’s press release cited a law. I’m more than a little skeptical that PJI knows enough to cite a law, but not enough to know this about the law:

Page 10 of the 2013/14 Statewide Initiative Guide for California
Page 10 of the 2013/14 Statewide Initiative Guide for California

To be clear, when PJI said this…

A referendum has put on hold a 37 word bill which would have opened up restrooms, locker rooms and showers in K-12 public schools to students “irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.” Known as the Co-ed Bathroom Bill, Assembly Bill 1266 originally was due to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. But voters in all 58 of California’s counties have put on the brakes by submitting more than 600,000 signatures to the Secretary of State.

… to the press. They lied.

Today, the Associated Press, promoted PJI’s false claim of courtroom victory:

When will the press get it? PJI lies. Stop falling for their claims. Fact check!
When will the press get it? PJI lies. Stop falling for their claims. Fact check!

The judge DID NOT “order” the Secretary of State’s office to do anything. There has been no trial and no court order was issued.

PJI’s coalition, Privacy For All Students – Stop AB 1266, issued a press release titled, “Privacy For All Students Wins In Court.” No, they’ve not yet seen the inside of a courtroom. A court has not issued any orders.  That’s a lie.  The hate site, World News Daily proclaimed, “Judge Flushes ‘Bathroom Bill’ Election Trick.” Again, that’s a lie. No judge issued any court order compelling the Secretary of State to do anything.

PJI petitioned a court to force the Secretary of State to accept petitions PJI’s group delivered to county offices that were closed for Veterans Day. A judge, at PJI’s request, issued a statement which said that based on the preliminary non-trial evidence, he would side with PJI if a trial had happened. This is a legal maneuver that is sometimes used to encourage an out-of-court settlement between two parties.

To be clear:

  • No judge ordered any California governmental agency to do anything different. Those who are claiming otherwise are either mistaken or lying.
  • PJI lied about AB 1266 being on hold. It isn’t. AB 1266 is and will be the law of the land unless they can produce a 95% signature validity rate of signatures required to qualify (504,760) by the 8th of January.
Pants on fire!
Pants on fire!

NOTE: The way the math works (because more signatures were tuned in than needed to qualify for a random count), the percentage of the total turned in needs to have validity rate of a little over 81%.


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Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of underserved communities. She started the first trans homeless shelter in Texas and co-founded the first federally funded housing-first homeless program, pioneered affordable health care for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. She has published short stories, academic chapters and papers, and numerous articles for both print and digital magazines. She received numerous awards for her advocacy and has presented at universities throughout the nation, served on several governmental committees and CBO boards, is the Editor of the TransAdvocate, and is a founding board member of the Transgender Foundation of America and the Bee Busy Wellness Center.