'The Legislature sent a strong message against discrimination by passing this bill unfortunately, Governor Owens sent a stronger message by vetoing it,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today decried Colorado Gov. Bill Owens' decision to veto the non-discrimination measure that passed the state Legislature earlier this month, which would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to existing state non-discrimination laws. Owens did indicate, however, that he would allow the anti-hate crime legislation that was also passed by the state Legislature to become law, even though he does not support it.
"The Legislature sent a strong message against discrimination by passing this bill unfortunately, Governor Owens sent a stronger message by vetoing it," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "This veto is out of step with voters, and businesses across Colorado who stand against prejudice."
Only one governor - then California Gov. Pete Wilson - has ever vetoed a measure prohibiting sexual orientation-based discrimination. Wilson then signed a measure adding sexual orientation anti-discrimination protections to the state's Labor Code law the next year.
Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., have laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and six prohibit gender identity-based discrimination, including Colorado neighbor New Mexico.
Major employers in Colorado including Molson Coors, Qwest Communications, First Data Corp. and Ball Corp. have implemented non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation.
In his veto message, Owens did express his disappointment with lawmakers who likened gay citizens with criminals and worse.
"We are hopeful that, at the very least, anti-gay activists will heed the governor's call for a more civil discourse," said Solmonese.
Colorado becomes the 10th state to include sexual orientation and gender identity in a statewide hate crimes law. View a map of these states.
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