Citation. 517 U.S. 620, 116 S.Ct. 1620, 134 L.Ed.2d 855 (1996).
Plaintiffs challenged an amendment to a state constitution which prohibited protected status based on sexual orientation.
A law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause when it is not rationally related to a legitimate government interest.
Colorado voters adopted Amendment 2 to their state constitution, prohibiting laws conveying protected status on the basis of “homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation.” Many municipalities had already passed local ordinances conveying protected status. Plaintiffs brought suit challenging Amendment 2 on Equal Protection grounds.
Whether Amendment 2 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Yes. Amendment 2 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Since the U.S. Constitution says nothing about this subject, it should be left to be resolved by normal democratic means, including the democratic adoption of provisions in state constitutions. The state has no business imposing its will. What Colorado has done is not forbidden and eminently reasonable under our precedent.
Amendment 2 singles out homosexual and bisexual individuals by denying the right to seek and receive legal protections from discrimination. This law is both too narrow and too broad because it identifies persons based on a single trait and denies protection across the board.
It is a status-based enactment divorced from any factual context from which we could discern a relationship to legitimate state interests. It does not further a proper legislative end, but rather makes an entire class unequal to everyone else.