Equal Protection

Denver is one of a handful of cities that have local ordinances protecting gay and lesbian employees from workplace discrimination.

But if an individual lives outside those cities, the outlook isn’t so optimistic.

That may change if a bill to apply such protections statewide is passed and signed into law this year. So far, the bill has made it through Senate Appropriations Committee and is on its way for a final reading in the Senate.

Throughout the process, backers of the bill have been organizing to support the measure. For example, this week volunteers with People for the American Way will be phoning equal rights supporters to talk about the bill.

Equal Rights Colorado (ERC), another group that supports the measure, recently held a lobbying day at the capitol with record breaking attendance.

“It will not change employment discrimination law,” says ERC spokesman Michael Brewer. “All the employment discrimination laws in Colorado stay the same, except that our current laws will include protections for employees based on sexual orientation and gender variance.”

Similar measures have been passed by the General Assembly in other sessions, but were vetoed by former Gov. Bill Owens. This will be the third time such legislation has been proposed.

Other cities with anti-discrimination ordinances include Boulder, Aspen, Telluride, and Crested Butte.

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 erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.