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Boycott Colorado.

Denver

Lesbian and gay groups across the nation are calling for a boycott of Colorado to protest a November referendum "writing discrimination into the constitution" of the state.

The boycott leaders are calling on "all the citizens of the United States and the world" to avoid Colorado as a destination for business or recreation and to stop buying all products originating there.

"Don't come here for tourism, don't come here to ski, don't come here to hike," says Terry Schleder, a boycott organizer.

"It's still socially acceptable to bash queers," explains Tony Ogden of Equality Colorado. "And with the passage of Amendment Two, Colorado has just said it's more than socially acceptable, it's legally acceptable."

Sponsored by Colorado for Family Values, the new amendment prohibits the state or any of its cities from enacting protective legislation for gays and lesbians, in effect repealing gay-rights laws in Denver, Aspen, and Boulder.

"This is a giant step backwards in the area of civil rights," says Schleder. "And to me it feels like a smack in the face."

With the help of such Hollywood celebrities as Barbra Streisand and Elizabeth Taylor, lesbian, gay, and bisexual activists are grabbing international attention with their splashy protest. CBS World News Tonight, CNN, the London Times, the Hong Kong Times, and German Public Radio are all keeping tally as dozens of stars and business groups cancel concerts, benefits, and conferences.

"One hotel lost $20,000 in two minutes when a financial group canceled its plans to come here," says Schleder.

Boycott Colorado plans to keep the heat on until the state's people not only reverse Amendment Two, but also write protection for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals into the state constitution.

The cities of Aspen, Boulder, and Denver have joined national gay and lesbian groups and the ACLU to sue the state of Colorado over the amendment. The plaintiffs, including lesbian tennis star Martina Navratilova, argue that the amendment violates the U.S. Constitution. Denver's mayor, Wellington Webb, pointed out that approval by a majority of voters does not make the amendment right.

"If a popular vote said African-Americans or women are not entitled to rights, I hope somebody would stand up and challenge it," he said. "It's the same here."

Boycott organizers are working to identify "gay-friendly" businesses and are calling for a selective internal boycott by Colorado residents. For now, the January Gay Ski Week--expected to draw 3,000 lesbians, gays, and bisexuals to Aspen--is still on. "Aspen has opened its doors to us, and we'll use Gay Ski Weeks to raise funds and raise consciousness," says Schleder.

After only a few weeks, the protest has had some visible impact. The Denver Chamber of Commerce officially encouraged all members to adopt antidiscrimination policies, and t state's mayors, governor, tourism board are calling meetings with boycott leaders. Schleder sees such moves as a positive sign: "Our boycott's scaring the heck out of them."

To register a protest against Colorado's Amendment Two call the Colorado Tourism Board at (303)592-5510. For more information about the boycott, contact Boycott Colorado. P.O. Box 300158, Denver, CO 80203, 303 377-0160.
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Title Annotation:lesbian and gay groups protest state anti-gay referendum
Author:Rhoads, Heather
Publication:The Progressive
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:520
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