The national newscasts this morning are full of speculation about which way Colorado will swing tomorrow. But whether the color wheel lands on red or blue, Colorado won't look as black as it did the morning after the 1992 election, when this state was labeled "The Hate State."
The youngest people eligible to vote this year weren't born when Coloradans faced a whopping thirteen statewide ballot issues in 1992, the year the country elected Bill Clinton president and bumped the first George Bush out of the White House. Eight of those issues were constitutional amendments that landed on the ballot by petition, and it was quite a lineup. Among the measures approved were three that comprised the Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly.
The Good: Great Outdoors Colorado Voters had already approved the Colorado Lottery a decade earlier, but this initiative proposed putting much of the money collected from the lottery to Great Outdoors Colorado, a new program that would support open space and recreation areas throughout the state. Since 1994, when GOCO awarded its first grants, through fiscal year 2011, GOCO has committed approximately $715 million for nearly 3,500 projects in all 64 counties throughout the state, according to GOCO's website.
The Bad: TABOR, Taxpayer's Bill of Relief Touted by Doug Bruce, the Tabor Amendment -- which required voter approval of tax increases -- did not lead to the Armageddon that opponents predicted when it passed in November 1992. That's partly because the measure did allow local governments to de-Bruce, as many have over the last two decades -- and Denver's 2A on this year's ballot would be another override of Tabor if passed. But the dreaded "ratchet effect" and other problematic language in the measure, coupled with Colorado's boom and bust cycle, has made coping with Tabor a tricky business. Continue to read more about the 1992 election in Colorado and what it might mean for tomorrow.
The Very Ugly: Amendment 2 Colorado Springs car dealer Will Perkins was the public face of Colorado for Family Values, the religious-right group pushing Amendment 2, which said it wanted to end any "special rights" for homosexuals by repealing local laws passed to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and prevent similar new laws. Here's the actual language:
NO PROTECTED STATUS BASED ON HOMOSEXUAL, LESBIAN OR BISEXUAL ORIENTATION. 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 person or class of persons to have or claim any minority status, quota preferences, protected status or claim of discrimination.
This Section of the Constitution shall be in all respects self-executing.
The measure passed 53 to 46, to the shock of many Coloradans, who were even more shocked to find themselves labeled residents of "The Hate State." Celebs called for a boycott of Colorado, conventions cancelled and tourists chose other states to travel to.
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Just as quickly, those Coloradans rallied to fight Amendment 2, filing a lawsuit charging that the measure was unconstitutional on November 12, 1992. The case ultimately went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in May 1996 that Amendment 2 was indeed unconstitutional, denying homosexuals their basic rights. And Colorado was finally able to shed its "Hate State" label.
The passage of TABOR was just the start of Douglas Bruce's Colorado crusades. Read more in Alan Prendergast's "Douglas Bruce: The long, hard fall of a rogue tax crusader."