By Michael Baggot

DENVER, CO, June 2, 2008 ( – Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed a controversial new bill on Thursday that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and challenges the freedom of religious groups to oppose the homosexual lifestyle.

Despite a Focus on the Family media campaign urging veto of the bill, the governor signed Senate Bill 200 into law. The legislation forbids sexual orientation discrimination in “public accommodations,” broadly defined to include any business, including home-based ones, that offer “goods and services” to the public.

Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family Action, warned in his Denver Post editorial last Saturday that SB 200 would “forcibly normalize all varieties of sexual orientation”. Because “transsexual” is considered a sexual orientation, the bill would free men to enter women’s restrooms and locker-rooms, noted Minnery.

“There are multiple problems with this legislation, but the problem of restrooms is the most breathtaking one. Until now, establishments open to the public have been allowed to restrict certain restrooms and locker rooms to one sex if it made sense to do so, as it almost always does.”

“With SB 200, however, we no longer have two ‘sexes’; we enter a brave new world with a myriad of ‘sexual orientations’ that must not be discriminated against, upon pain of the substantial civil and criminal penalties contained in the bill.”

“Woe to the first women’s fitness facility or mall owner who objects to a man dressed as a woman who wants to enter previously forbidden territory. And what an opportunity for sexual predators to use this law as ‘cover’ to enter intimate areas in search of a victim.”

Democrat sponsor of the bill Senator Jennifer Veiga dismissed Focus on the Family’s concern over bathroom and locker-room intrusions as “scare tactics.”

Minnery also contended that the bill’s application to small businesses threatens the religious freedom of operators of faith-based organizations.

“This is not a hypothetical threat. In Albuquerque, which has a similar law, a Christian husband and wife who own and operate their own photography studio were recently hauled before that state’s human rights commission and fined more than $6,600 for politely refusing, on religious grounds, to photograph a lesbian ‘commitment ceremony.'”

“We’ve seen similar charges brought by homosexuals against a video reproduction business in Virginia, a medical clinic in California, an adoption service in Arizona and a church in New Jersey,” Minnery added.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) hailed the new Colorado bill as a civil rights victory.

“No one should be denied housing or access to public accommodations solely because of his or her sexual orientation,” stated ADL Mountain States Regional Office Director Bruce DeBoskey.

Opponents of the bill have indicated that the legislation will do more than open public accommodations to practitioners of unorthodox sexual behavior.

“None of us wants to see people humiliated or embarrassed because of how they appear in public and no one should be turned away from hotels, restaurants and other truly ‘public accommodations.’ But this law intrudes on the freedoms of conscience of untold numbers of people of faith, and the consequences for Colorado will be severe,” noted Minnery.

See related coverage:

Christian Company Fined for Not Taking Photographs of Same-Sex Ceremony

Read the bill:

To respectfully express concern to the Governor:

Governor Bill Ritter
136 State Capitol
Denver, CO 80203-1792
Phone: (303) 866-2471
Fax: (303) 866-2003