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RIGHTS WATCH : Wounded but Alive

October 13, 1994

The Colorado Supreme Court Tuesday dealt that state's mean-spirited anti-homosexual amendment its fourth consecutive legal setback. Alas, the blow may not be fatal.

Amendment 2, adopted by Colorado voters in 1992, would prohibit local governments from outlawing discrimination against homosexuals and would strike down ordinances already on the books in Denver, Boulder and Aspen.

The discriminatory measure was challenged immediately after it passed, with 54% of the vote, and a lower court rightly blocked its enforcement.

The state Supreme Court held that because Amendment 2 singles out a class of people for denial of basic rights it violates the equal-protection clauses of the Colorado and U.S. constitutions. "The right to participate equally in the political process is clearly affected by Amendment 2," the court wrote.

However, the matter is not dead yet. Colorado's attorney general said she will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. But she doesn't have to, and Gov. Roy Romer should direct her not to appeal. The long effort to implement this unfair law generated a costly nationwide boycott of Colorado's tourist business and a tarnished image for the state.

Oregon and Idaho voters should pay attention to Tuesday's ruling. Next month they will decide on statewide measures similar to Amendment 2. If majorities vote "yes," Oregon and Idaho should not be surprised if these manifestly unjust proposals meet the same fate as Amendment 2--with the same high political and fiscal costs.

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