The Difference A Governor Makes

A bill that would make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a worker based on his or her sexual orientation passed through a Senate committee on Monday, giving hope to the adage that the “third time’s a charm.”

Similar measures have been passed by the legislature twice, only to be vetoed by the former-Governor Bill Owens. But with the Democrat’s wining trifecta in the General Assembly and the Governor’s mansion, the outcome looks hopeful this time around.“It’s a logical extension of Colorado law. It’s fair, and it’s necessary, and it’s the right thing to do,” said Mari Newman, a civil rights attorney who has worked on cases regarding orientation discrimination.

Newman told the State, Veterans & Military Affairs committee that gay and lesbian employees in Colorado do not legally have the same rights as employees who may file discrimination suits based on race or sex.

The vote was spit by party lines with Sen. Dave Schultheis and Sen. Ron May, both Republicans from Colorado Springs, casting the two dissenting votes.

The bill will be headed to the Appropriations committee and then back to the Senate floor before going to the House of Representatives. It’s sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Veiga (D-Denver) and Majority Leader Alice Madden (D-Boulder) in the House.

Newman said Governor Bill Ritter will likely sign the legislation if it is passed by the General Assembly.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at