COLORADO ANTI-GAY LAW IS DEAD
By Shelley Ettinger
A Colorado judge voided an anti-gay amendment to the state
constitution Dec. 14. It was the third court ruling to find the
law, passed as a ballot initiative in November 1992,
Colorado's attorney general will appeal the decision. But an
earlier state supreme court procedural ruling against the law
indicates the appeal is likely to fail.
So the ban on lesbian and gay rights in Colorado is dead. Local
anti-discrimination laws in Denver, Boulder and Aspen remain in
The national boycott of Colorado, which reportedly cost
businesses millions of dollars and created considerable pressure
to overturn the law, has been called off.
Legal experts hailed Judge Jeffrey Bayless's ruling as an
important civil-rights victory--especially since it holds that
the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection applies to gay
Last month an Ohio judge issued an injunction blocking a similar
measure from taking effect in Cincinnati. And several courts have
ruled against the ban on gays in the military in recent months.
Together, these cases are a setback for the right wing. Gay
activists say it is no coincidence that they come just months
after a million people marched on Washington to demand full
rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people.
The rulings show how the living struggle, with people mobilized
into action in the streets, can win victories from the
But activists also caution that the struggle, even in Colorado,
is by no means over. Vicious anti-gay campaigns, there and in at
least a dozen other states, continue.
"The reactionaries have suffered a defeat. But they are pressing
on. The movement to win and defend lesbian and gay rights must do
the same," Trudy Rudnick, a lesbian activist and president of
Federation of Teachers Local 3882 at New York University, told
FIGHT THE RIGHT
When Colorado's anti-gay ballot measure passed last November, a
similar proposition was defeated in Oregon. Civil-rights groups,
unions, progressive churches and community organizations joined
the gay community to wage a successful political struggle.
But the right wing didn't give up. The battle is still on in
Oregon. It's being fought city by city, throughout the state.
It's also on in Missouri, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Texas, Michigan,
Washington and elsewhere. The particulars--the wording of a
proposed anti-gay law, the name of the right-wing group--
vary a bit by locale. But the essence is identical.
Religious fundamentalists and reactionary ideologues, pumped up
by hefty financial contributions from anonymous business owners,
run slick campaigns. The goal is to convince straight voters that
equal rights for lesbians and gays somehow threaten their rights,
their families, their homes and jobs.
The right wing seeks to put the gay movement on the defensive. In
response, coalitions are reaching out to build broad support for
Trade unionists build solidarity between gay and straight
workers. Civil-rights leaders like the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the
Rev. Ben Chavis of the NAACP stand with the gay community.
"Unity is the key to winning this fight," Rudnick says. "The
Colorado ruling shows that we have the power to drive back the
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