HRC Blog

Know Your Colorado LGBT History:  Romer v. Evans

by Mike Yost

     Where were you on May 20, 1996?  Don’t remember?  Wondering why you should?

     The story began four years prior on November 3, 1992 when 54% of Colorado voters approved Amendment 2.  The referendum would have prohibited homosexual anti-discrimination laws throughout the state, rescinding several already in place in Denver, Boulder, and Aspen.  The amendment argued that homosexuality “...shall [not] constitute or otherwise be the basis of or entitle any person or class of persons to have or claim any minority status, quota preferences, protected status or claim of discrimination.”

     Shortly after it was passed, a lawsuit was filed against Amendment 2 and the State of Colorado by the affected municipalities and several citizens, including current State Senator Pat Steadman.  An injunction was implemented, blocking the amendment.  The case became known as Romer v. Evans, and Colorado for Family Values, led by Will Perkins, fought against the reversal of the amendment.  
Supreme Court Courtroom     The case went to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1994, and then to the U.S. Supreme Court two years later.  With a vote of 6-3, Amendment 2 was declared unconstitutional.  Justice Kennedy wrote that "Amendment 2 classifies homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else… Amendment 2 violates the Equal Protection Clause”.

     Indeed, May 20, 1996 was a great victory for homosexual rights not only in Colorado, but in the nation, setting the precedent for future rulings on LGBT discrimination rights.  Read the entire U.S. Supreme Court ruling here:  Romer v. Evans.