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Colorado Expands Anti-Discrimination Laws

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Colorado Expands Anti-Discrimination Laws

Postby StlSluggers » Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:53 pm

This is an interesting debate. Colorado expanded their anti-discrimination laws to include "a person's religious belief or sexual orientation." People - mostly Christian action groups - are saying that there could be some interesting (negative) consequences with this bill. Specifically, they say that this bill gives a guy the right to enter a woman's bathroom under the guise of being a transgendered individual, be it a legit claim or not.

Have to be careful reading around on this one. The Christian right is really strong in their web presence, so finding an "unbiased" (in theory) article was a little tough. This one seemed pretty fair.

Denver Post wrote:Gov. Bill Ritter today quietly signed a controversial bill expanding the prohibition of sexual-orientation-based discrimination, over the vocal opposition of conservative Christian groups like Focus on the Family.

The bill bans discrimination based on a person's religious belief or sexual orientation - including transgender people - in places of public accommodation, housing practices, family planning services and 20 other public spheres. Such prohibitions are already in place with regard to race.

"I think it's a step in the right direction for Coloradans and civil rights," said Sen. Jennifer Veiga, a Denver Democrat who sponsored the bill.

Ritter signed Senate Bill 200 this afternoon in his office, without any of the public ceremonies and news releases that came with six other bills he signed today. His spokesman, Evan Dreyer, said the governor was not deliberately trying to keep the signing quiet. In all, Ritter signed 20 bills today, Dreyer said.

"There were hundreds and hundreds of bills that were passed by the legislature this year," Dreyer said. "We do many ceremonies and many announcements, but in reality we do just a fraction."

But no bill this year has seen the kind of heated post-session attacks that SB 200 has. Focus on the Family launched radio ads and a media campaign urging Ritter to veto the bill.

"The state legislature here in Colorado has frankly become just about as radical and extreme as the California Legislature, in an effort that was designed to obviously appease the homosexual community give access to all public restrooms by people of the opposite gender," Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said Wednesday on his regular radio broadcast, according to an online newsletter from the organization sent out later that day.

Opponents said the bill would have serious consequences, such as opening up Colorado public restrooms and locker rooms to all genders and transgender people, exposing children and women to sexual predators.

Dreyer said opponents were running a campaign of misinformation.

"The claims that are made in this campaign are not based in fact. They are based in fear," Dreyer said.

"All this does," Dreyer added, "is it brings across-the-board consistency to existing anti-discrimination laws."


Bruce DeBoskey, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the opposition's claims were exaggerated and applauded the signing.

"We think this is another important step in making Colorado safe and inclusive and welcoming to all those who live there," he said.
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Re: Colorado Expands Anti-Discrimination Laws

Postby knapplc » Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:11 pm

These changes should come as no surprise to anyone living in Colorado. They're among the most liberal of states when it comes to discrimination laws, including laws based on sexual preference and transgender-ness. Anyone living in Colorado who doesn't like these kinds of laws may want to consider moving. :-D

The reality is that PA laws across the nation are really lagging behind the times. They typically don't meet the needs of today's societal standards, and these kinds of updates are necessary. In fact, they should be more common across the country, not a rarity like this. In Nebraska, a charging party has 10 days from their date of harm to file a charge or it's out of time jurisdictionally. Ten days is NOTHING, especially when you consider that a fair portion of those claiming harms are people driving through who were disrespected at their hotel or restaurant. Non-residents have an exceedingly difficult time filing charges in time with this ten-day constraint, but nobody seems to care.

Regarding this particular article, the odds of a transgendered person entering a bathroom and causing a ruckus are pretty slim in my studied opinion, and this kind of fear-driven protest is not serving the best interests of Coloradoans. I suppose my position would be to err on the side of protection of persons of minority status, and see how it plays out in practice before killing the bill out of fear.
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Re: Colorado Expands Anti-Discrimination Laws

Postby Amazinz » Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:48 pm

There is an issue with this bill other than the "cross dresser in the bathroom" angle which is receiving most of the focus. There is some wording within the bill that some deem unconstitutional and an impingement on free speech:

displaying in any way, manner, or shape or by any means or method…any communication, paper, book, pamphlet…notice, or advertisement of any kind…that is intended or calculated to discriminate or actually discriminates….


I don't have strong feelings toward the trans-gender bathroom issue. As unsavory as it seems to me, I imagine this is already an issue in our society. These people have to go to the bathroom somewhere. There is an exemption in the bill for churches, synagogues, mosques, etc., to protect freedom of religion.
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Re: Colorado Expands Anti-Discrimination Laws

Postby Art Vandelay » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:43 pm

My state recently passed some similar legislation, and although it's not perfect, I think the wrongs it rights are far more important than the specter of transgendered bathroom confusion, or pervs making false claims in order to go into the other gender's bathroom. For one thing, I really don't envision that being a huge problem, at least not much moreso than it is currently. But the fact that it was perfectly legal for a company or landlord (for example) to deny someone work or housing based on something like sexual orientation up to a few months ago disgusts me.
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Re: Colorado Expands Anti-Discrimination Laws

Postby Amazinz » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:56 pm

It wasn't legal. Most of the changes to the bill were for the sake of clarity (many believe unnecessarily).
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Re: Colorado Expands Anti-Discrimination Laws

Postby Art Vandelay » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:04 pm

Amazinz wrote:It wasn't legal. Most of the changes to the bill were for the sake of clarity (many believe unnecessarily).

I should have been more clear...in my state it was legal until January 1st of this year. I don't know anything about state discrimination law in Colorado.
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Re: Colorado Expands Anti-Discrimination Laws

Postby Amazinz » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:14 pm

Art Vandelay wrote:...in my state it was legal until January 1st of this year.

If you don't mind me asking, what state is this? I have a hard time believing it was legal but it wouldn't be the first time I've been blown away by something like this.
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Re: Colorado Expands Anti-Discrimination Laws

Postby knapplc » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:38 pm

Amazinz wrote:
Art Vandelay wrote:...in my state it was legal until January 1st of this year.

If you don't mind me asking, what state is this? I have a hard time believing it was legal but it wouldn't be the first time I've been blown away by something like this.

Sexual orientation protection in the realms of housing discrimination and employment discrimination is the exception, not the rule. Neither Title VII nor Title VIII offer protection for sexual orientation, and most states/municipalities mirror these two federal laws. I talk to people all the time who want to allege discrimination based on sexual orientation and I have to tell them that the law does not protect them. It's great. :-/
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Re: Colorado Expands Anti-Discrimination Laws

Postby Art Vandelay » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:53 pm

Amazinz wrote:
Art Vandelay wrote:...in my state it was legal until January 1st of this year.

If you don't mind me asking, what state is this? I have a hard time believing it was legal but it wouldn't be the first time I've been blown away by something like this.

Oregon, and surprisingly enough, it was legal. Race, gender, religion, country of origin, and other classes were protected, but sexual orientation and identity were not. The legislation was SB2 passed in 2007. here is a press release from the governor's office from when the bill was signed into law along with another piece of legislation regarding domestic partnerships, and here's a link to the legal mumbo jumbo.
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Re: Colorado Expands Anti-Discrimination Laws

Postby Snakes Gould » Tue Jun 10, 2008 12:04 am

question....why are there even separate bathrooms anymore to begin with? if there were just stalls, would anyone really have a problem with peeing next to someone of an opposite gender even if there was a wall separating you? its not as though women are running around in the bathroom without bras and underwear. now, a shower or changing room, i see the need for separation, but why just a restroom?
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