Anti-Gay Amendment Leader Says He Wasn’t Trying To Block Civil Rights
DENVER (AP) _ One of the men who spearheaded passage of the state’s anti-gay-rights amendment testified Friday that the intention was to deny protected-class status to gays, not deny them civil rights.
″How you have sex is not an appropriate criterion for civil rights,″ Will Perkins, a co-founder of Colorado for Family Values, testified before District Judge Jeffrey Bayless, who is hearing a lawsuit challenging Amendment 2 as unconstitutional.
Perkins’ testimony and that of Tony Marco, a co-founder of Colorado for Family Values, the organization that developed the amendment, concluded the first week of what is expected to be a two-week trial.
Marco said the group’s intention in pushing the initiative ″was to resist statewide aggression by gay militants against the rights of Colorado citizens.″
″Civil rights protections of this type are a matter of statewide concern,″ he said.
Perkins and Marco were the first witnesses for the state of Colorado, which is defending Amendment 2 from a lawsuit filed by six individuals and the cities of Boulder, Denver and Aspen.
The three cities have gay rights ordinances that would be struck down by Amendment 2, which was approved by Colorado voters last November. Bayless put the amendment on hold pending the outcome of the trial.
Perkins, who owns a Colorado Springs car dealership, said he grew interested in the issue of homosexual rights when the city’s Human Relations Council began considering an ordinance protecting those rights.
″When I saw the impact and the change in the ordinance, I saw the impact on me as a business person,″ he said, adding that he feared the council would receive powers that would turn it into a ″Gestapo of more red tape and more problems.″
So he said he helped found Colorado for Family Values and began the drive to pass Amendment 2.
″I’m very much in favor of civil rights and I see this (protection of gays) as a real threat to the Civil Rights Act of 1964,″ Perkins said.
Earlier Friday, attorneys played the tape-recorded testimony of a civil rights expert who said homosexuals were not listed as a protected class in the 1964 Civil Rights Act because most hid their sexual orientation 30 years ago.
″People disguised their sexuality, so the problem was not apparent,″ said Burke Marshall, a law professor at Yale University and Justice Department attorney during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.
As homosexuals have become more open about their sexuality, discrimination against them has worsened, Marshall said.