May 15, 2012

(Denver) – Speaker Frank McNulty’s kill committee voted 5-4 today to defeat a measure aimed at stripping the state constitution of language the courts have found unconstitutional.

SCR12S-001 would have allowed Colorado voters to remove from the state constitution a number of provisions that are obsolete or have been struck down by the courts. It was supported by the state’s two top Republican officials, Attorney General John Suthers and Secretary of State Scott Gessler, and passed the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee during the regular session with broad bipartisan support.

The constitution is littered with such garbage, and periodically voters are called on to remove obsolete language. Attention focused on Amendment 2, which was approved by Colorado voters in 1992. It barred the state or its local governments from recognizing the rights of LGBT citizens.

An injunction prevented Amendment 2 from taking effect, and in 1996 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the measure unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy, hardly a flaming liberal, wrote for the majority that it “identifies persons by a single trait and then denies them protection across the board.” The amendment, he wrote, “seems inexplicable by anything but animus toward the class that it affects; it lacks a rational relationship to legitimate state interests.”

But rationality is not the strong suit of opponents of SCR12S-001. Right Turn Colorado, a conservative blog, argues that if Amendment 2 is taken off the books, “those for traditional values/Biblical values will be forced to forego their religious convictions or be accused of discrimination,”without a shred of evidence that anything like that has happened in the 16 years since Amendment 2 became unenforceable.

“How ridiculous can the House GOP be?” said Rep. Mark Ferrandino, sponsor of the resolution and of the civil unions bill that was killed last night in the same committee. “Once again we have a party-line vote in the speaker’s kill committee against equal rights. This time the vote is not actually injurious, so McNulty’s minions had to settle for being gratuitously offensive to many Coloradans. And once again, the culprit is Speaker McNulty.”

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