OPINION: The Defeat of Senate Bill 283

By Austin Montoya

Yesterday, the Colorado State Senate voted down Senate Bill 283 – a bill that would have allowed businesses to claim any belief, including religious beliefs, gives them the right to refuse to follow non-discrimination laws they don’t like. Three Senate Republicans joined all the Senate Democrats in standing in opposition to the bill because it would have a devastating effect on Colorado’s economy and send a message that Colorado isn’t open for business to everyone. Kelly Brough, President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of One Colorado, released the following statement on the bipartisan defeat of this bill.

“There are high stakes with legislation like this. There are economic stakes – we saw what happened to Indiana in 2015 when it passed legislation similar to this; $60 million in lost tourism revenue and a mass exodus of business leaders who saw that law for what it is – discrimination,” said Kelly Brough, President and CEO of Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “Senate Bill 283 would have legalized discrimination. It condones injustice as long as it’s disguised as religious freedom. That’s not OK in Colorado and it frankly shouldn’t be OK anywhere else.”

“Senate Bill 283 was so broadly written that it would have opened the door for any Colorado business to discriminate against any customer by claiming their personal beliefs, including religious beliefs, gave them the right to do so,” said Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of One Colorado. “Religious freedom is important – that’s why the First Amendment to our Constitution already protects it. But the rule of law is also important, and we can’t just let people refuse to follow laws they don’t like.

“We believe that all people should be treated fairly and equally. It’s shocking to realize that, in this day and age, we are still debating whether it should be legal to discriminate against someone or turn them away from a business simply because of who they are. We are thankful that all the Senate Democrats and Senators Tate, Coram, and Martinez Humenik saw this bill for what it was, a thinly-veiled attempt to give businesses permission to ignore Colorado’s non-discrimination laws. This is not only a victory for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and our families, but for all Coloradans who believe businesses should have to serve everyone on the same terms.”

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