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Colorado Court Voids Anti-Gay Amendment

October 12, 1994| From Associated Press

DENVER — The anti-gay rights amendment that set off a nationwide boycott of Colorado was declared unconstitutional Tuesday by the state Supreme Court, which said it denies homosexuals an equal voice in government.

State Atty. Gen. Gale Norton said she will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Adopted by the state's voters in 1992, the amendment prohibited local governments from outlawing discrimination against homosexuals.

"The right to participate equally in the political process is clearly affected by Amendment 2," Chief Justice Luis Rovira wrote for the court's 6-1 majority.

The amendment "singles out one form of discrimination and removes its redress from consideration by the normal political process," Rovira said.

Amendment 2, which would have struck down anti-discrimination ordinances in Denver, Boulder and Aspen, has never been enforced. It was challenged immediately after its passage and has been the subject of court battles since then.

It was written by Colorado for Family Values founder Will Perkins and approved, 54% to 46%, by voters in the 1992 election.

After its passage, gay-rights activists launched a nationwide boycott of Colorado's tourism industry that they said cost about $120 million in lost convention business. State officials put the figure at about $40 million.

"This ruling is a decisive affirmation of lesbian and gay rights, and a crushing blow to the radical right's efforts to curtail important constitutional protections," said Suzanne B. Goldberg, an attorney at the gay-rights organization Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and a co-counsel in the case. Tuesday's decision upholds a ruling last year by District Judge Jeffrey Bayless.

The high court ruled that Amendment 2 "alters the political process so that a targeted class is prohibited from obtaining legislative, executive and judicial protection or redress from discrimination, absent the consent of the majority of the electorate."

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