Brief Fact Summary.
A statewide controversy arose with respect to the amendment to the Colorado Constitution that prohibited any special protection by all legislative, executive or judicial action at any level of state to homosexual persons.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
If a law neither burdens a fundamental right nor targets a suspect class, the legislative classification will be upheld so long as it bears a rational relation to some legitimate end.
They alleged that enforcement of Amendment 2 would subject them to immediate and substantial risk of discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.View Full Point of Law
An amendment to the Colorado Constitution sought to ban discrimination in many transactions and activities including housing, employment and welfare services. The dispute arose with respect to the protection afforded to persons discriminated against by reason of their sexual orientation. It prohibited all legislative, executive or judicial action at any level of state designed to protect homosexual persons. The State argued that it puts gays and lesbians in the same position as all other persons by not granting them special rights.
Does the Colorado Constitution that prohibited any special protection by all legislative, executive or judicial action at any level of state to homosexual persons violate the Fourteenth Amendment?
Yes, because the amendment to the Colorado Constitution classifies homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else. A State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws and thus the amendment violates equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Colorado law currently proscribes discrimination against persons who are not suspect classes, including discrimination based on age, martial status, veterans’ status. The amendment is not intended to have any effect on this legislation but seeks only to prevent the adoption of anti-discrimination laws intended to protect gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.
The amendment deprives gays and lesbians even of the protection of general laws and policies that prohibit arbitrary discrimination in governmental and private settings. The amendment would inevitably force an official to determine whether homosexuality is an arbitrary and thus forbidden basis for decision. However, a decision to that effect would amount to a policy prohibiting discrimination based on homosexuality, and would appear no more valid. Homosexuals are forbidden safeguards that others may seek without constraint and they can obtain specific protection against discrimination only be enlisting the citizenry of Colorado to amend the state constitution. By placing such unnecessary burden, the amendment violates the Fourteenth Amendment.