Oct 092002
Authors: Christopher J. Ortiz

Ten years has passed since Amendment 2 became a heated debate in Colorado.

The amendment voided gay rights protections and prohibited any claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation in Colorado.

After the amendment passed and became a part of the Colorado Constitution in the general election in 1992, a Denver District Court judge ruled that the amendment appeared to violate gay access to equal protection of the law.

Two years later the Colorado Supreme Court voted the amendment unconstitutional. In 1996, the United States Supreme Court agreed and struck down the amendment.

The perceived attack on the gay population in Colorado led to a backlash against the state and ignited gay community leaders and groups in Colorado by rallying support against the amendment.

“When Amendment 2 was an issue in Colorado, it galvanized a way to unite the GLBT community in Colorado,” said Randy McCrillis, director of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender (GLBT) Student Services.

Since Amendment 2, McCrillis cited gains in higher education for the GLBT community in Colorado. GLBT services have been added to campuses. Universities such as the University of Colorado and University of Denver have included domestic partner benefits. Such benefits do not exist at CSU, McCrillis said.

Despite gains in gay rights, a majority of Coloradoans and Americans are about equally split on the issue.

In a Gallup poll posted in The Denver Post Sunday, half of Americans and Coloradoans said homosexuality is wrong; the other half disagreed. They were also split when asked if gay couples should legally be able to adopt.

Several pieces of Colorado legislation regarding gay rights have followed Amendment 2’s fate.

House Bill 1356, which would have prevented the establishment of parent-child relationships in which there are multiple parents of the same sex, was indefinitely postponed last April after it was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 9 was killed after it was sent to the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee in April. The bill would have expanded protection to include sexual orientation and gender identity in bias-motivated crimes.

Senate Bill 74 would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to existing employment discrimination laws. It was postponed indefinitely in the House Committee on State, Veterans and Military Affairs.

“The GLBT community saw Amendment 2 as nightmare that snuck up on them,” said James Osborn, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Association advisor for the University of Wyoming. “I think people realized when Amendment 2 was passed that there were a lot of people that didn’t understand what they were passing and that political activism had to be a high priority for the GLBT community.

“Being very active in protecting our rights and privileges was going to become critical because if Amendment 2 could get passed what else could get passed as well,” he said. “I think it became a unifying call for GLBT people to come together and work together to try to change things within the political system to begin very intense lobbying efforts.”

Edited by Colleen Buhrer, Shandra Jordan and Ben Koerselman

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