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social sciences

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The fledging organization began with limited services, primarily to gay men who struggled in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, providing a food pantry, part-time case management, and a buddy program to clients. Since then, the Colorado AIDS Project has grown into the largest AIDS service organization in the Rocky Mountain region, serving over 1500 clients a year, many of whom are gay and bisexual men.

Amendment 2

The surge of community activism from the 1970s and the community-based response to AIDS of the 1980s brought more gay men and lesbians into gay and lesbian politics, making possible local laws that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. This progress, however, prompted a backlash movement by conservative religious organizations in the state.

Sponsor Message.

In October 1990, the Denver City Council passed an ordinance that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment, and public accommodations. The following year, conservatives called for the repeal of the ordinance, but their referendum was defeated: Denver citizens voted to keep the protections.

During this time, other cities in Colorado were voting on similar issues. In 1987, voters in the city of Boulder approved a similar law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Voters in Fort Collins rejected a similar measure in 1988. A few years later, the Colorado Springs City Council also failed to adopt such an ordinance, in large part because of pressure from a number of conservative religious organizations based in the Springs.

Unhappy with the trend in a handful of Colorado cities to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, these conservative groups decided to work on passing a statewide initiative. Not content with defeating the non-discrimination ordinance in Colorado Springs, they wanted to remove all such measures throughout the state, in both city and state governments.

Three of these activists, David Noebel, Tony Marco, and Kevin Tebedo, formed Colorado for Family Values, recruited Will Perkins to chair the campaign, and began working on an amendment to the Colorado State Constitution that would prohibit sexual orientation anti-discrimination legislation throughout the state. Amendment 2 was born.

In November 1993, after an expensive campaign that garnered national attention, Amendment 2 passed with 53% of the vote, surprising many in the state. The amendment read:

"Neither the State of Colorado, through any of its branches or departments, nor any of its agencies, political subdivisions, municipalities, or school districts, shall enact, adopt or enforce any statute, regulation, ordinance or policy whereby homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices, or relationships shall constitute or otherwise be the basis of, or entitle any persons or class of persons to have or claim minority status or claim of discrimination."

Romer v. Evans

After Amendment 2 passed, gay and lesbian activists and their allies formed the Colorado Legal Initiatives Project to fight the amendment in court. The case of Romer v. Evans progressed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled, on a six to three vote, against the amendment.

The ruling in the Romer v. Evans case constitutes a monumental legal victory for gay men and lesbians on the national, as well as local level. It stopped the Christian Right's bold strategy of attempting to amend state constitutions to prohibit local and state governments from protecting its glbtq citizens from discrimination, and it somewhat surprisingly signaled support on the part of a majority of a conservative U. S. Supreme Court for glbtq rights, notwithstanding Justice Antonin Scalia's intemperate and disrespectful dissent.

Political Support

In spite of the difficult times faced by gays and lesbians living in Denver and Colorado in the early and mid-1990s, Denver-based politicians have worked hard to promote tolerance and acceptance of sexual minorities in the Denver-metro area.

In 1996 former Denver mayor Wellington Webb officially proclaimed October as Gay and Lesbian History Month in the city of Denver. The Denver gay and lesbian community continues to enjoy relative acceptance in a state that is largely hostile to its existence.

Geoffrey W. Bateman

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social sciences >> Overview:  AIDS Activism

In the United States, glbtq people have played an integral and often leading role in AIDS activism, greatly influencing AIDS treatment and advocacy.

social sciences >> Overview:  Metropolitan Community Church

The Metropolitan Community Church, a Christian denomination founded to minister to the glbtq community, has grown into a worldwide ministry with over 40,000 members in 18 countries.

social sciences >> Hay, Harry

Activist Harry Hay, an original member of both the Mattachine Society and the Radical Faeries, is recognized as one of the principal founders of the gay liberation movement in the United States.

social sciences >> Hirschfeld, Magnus

German-born Magnus Hirschfeld deserves recognition as a significant theorist of sexuality and the most prominent advocate of homosexual emancipation of his time.

social sciences >> Mattachine Society

One of the earliest American gay movement organizations, the Mattachine Society was dedicated to the cultural and political liberation of homosexuals; but in the face of McCarthyism, it adopted conservative policies of accommodationism.

social sciences >> Romer v. Evans

Romer v. Evans (1996) marks the first time in its history that the U. S. Supreme Court recognized lesbians and gay men as worthy and deserving of equal rights.

social sciences >> Stonewall Riots

The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.


Bérubé, Allan. Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II. New York: The Free Press, 1990.

Colorado AIDS Project. "Organizational History."

D'Emilio, John. Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities. The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Diguardi, Lisa. "A History of Gay and Lesbian Denver."

Dorset, Lyle W., and Michael MacCarthy. The Queen City: A History of Denver. Boulder, Col.: Pruett Publishing, 1986.

Katz, Jonathan Ned. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976; rev. ed. New York: Meridian, 1992.

Keen, Lisa, and Suzanne B. Goldberg. Strangers to the Law: Gay People on Trial. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998.

Martinac, Paula. The Queerest Places: A Guide to Gay and Lesbian Historic Sites. New York: Henry Holt, 1997.

Noel, Thomas J. "Gay Bars and the Emergence of the Denver Homosexual Community." Social Science Journal 15 (1978): 59-74.


    Citation Information
    Author: Bateman, Geoffrey W.  
    Entry Title: Denver  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated February 12, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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