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Colorado's court challenge.

Sighs of relief reverberated through a Denver courtroom last week as the trial of Amendment 2 was gaveled into recess. Eight days of grueling and tedious testimony was presented, homosexuality was scrutinized, and the 1992 campaign relived. At issue: Could an identifiable group of persons be denied rights by a majority of voters?

Judge H. Jeffrey Bayless ruled in January that Amendment 2 - which prohibits legal protection from discrimination for lesbians and gay men - could not take effect until a trial was held on its constitutional merits.

The Colorado Attorney General immediately appealed the Bayless decision to the state Supreme Court. in a 6-to-1 decision last July, the higher court upheld the Bayless decision and said that equal participation in the political process is a fundamental right of citizenship. Amendment 2 "fences out" a class of people - lesbians and gays - and the court said the state had not offered any compelling interest to justify enactment.

Lead counsel Jean Dubofsky argued in closing that "gays and lesbians are not asking for protection from discrimination, just the right to ask for that protection if necessary." If Amendment 2 goes into effect, she said, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in Colorado "will be without political power."

The state, on the other hand, claimed the case was not about "hate and bigotry," but about "drawing the line." Solicitor General Tim Tymkovich argued that society at large should regulate issues of sexual behavior, not judges.

Amendment 2 would make all existing antidiscrimination ordinances, laws, regulations, and policies in Colorado unenforceable and prohibit any entity from enacting future laws. It prohibits "any branch or level" of state government, including the state judiciary, from enforcing "a claim of discrimination" on the basis of homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation. Gays could still propose laws through a statewide ballot initiative.

Prior to the recess, Judge Bayless gave no indication when he would reach a decision. Both sides believe the issue will be ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Title Annotation:suit against Amendment 2 anti-gay rights referendum
Author:Deitsch, Kathy
Publication:The Progressive
Date:Dec 1, 1993
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