Enactment challenged is an amendment to CO Constitution, called Amendment 2.
Various CO municipalities enacted ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in many transactions and activities.
Amendment not only repeals these ordinances, but also prohibits all governmental action designed to protect gays and lesbians.
SCOTUS struck down Amendment 2 as unconstitutional.
Does Amendment 2, which prohibits gov't action designed to protect gays and lesbians, violate the EPC?
A state cannot say a class of persons is unable to seek protection from the law.
Amendment 2 violates the EPC because the law does not bear a rational relationship to a legitimate government purpose.
State's argument is that it puts gays and lesbians in the same position as all other persons.
This reading of the amendment is implausible.
The change effected by this law is sweeping and comprehensive.
This amendment withdraws from homosexuals, but no others, specific legal protection from the injuries caused by discrimination and forbids reinstatement of these laws and policies.
Amendment 2 nullifies specific legal protections for this targeted class.
Bars homosexuals from securing protection against the injuries that public-accommodations laws address.
Also forbids all laws or policies providing specific protection for gays from discrimination by CO gov't.
Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint, such as specific protection against discrimination.
These are protections taken for granted by most people because they already have them or do not need them.
Under the 14th Amendment, no person shall be denied equal protection of the laws. We have tried to balance this with the reality that most legislation results in disadvantages to various groups.
We have said that if a law neither burdens a fundamental right nor targets a suspect class, we will uphold the legislative classification so long as it bears a rational relation to some legitimate end.
Amendment 2 fails this conventional inquiry because it imposes a broad disability on a single named group, which is an invalid form of legislation.
Its breadth is so discontinuous with the reasons offered for it that the amendment seems inexplicable by anything but animus toward the class it affects. It lacks a rational relationship to legitimate state interest.
By requiring a rational relationship, we ensure that classifications are not drawn for the purpose of disadvantaging the group burdened by the law.
The disqualification of a class to seek protection from the law is unprecedented.
It is central to EP that gov't parts remain open on impartial terms to those who seek assistance.
A law declaring hat in general it shall be more difficult for one group than another to seek aid is a denial of EP in the most literal sense.
Laws like this raise the inevitable inference that they were created out of animosity toward the class of persons affected.
In addition to this, the law does not bear a rational relationship to a legitimate government purpose.
Status-based enactment is divorced from any factual context from which we could discern a relationship to legitimate state interests.
Dissent (Scalia, Thomas, Rehnquist)
The legislation is an attempt to preserve traditional sexual mores against the efforts of a politically powerful minority to revise those mores through the use of laws.
That objective has been specifically approved by Congress and by the Court.
Court contradicts Bowers v. Hardwick and supports the proposition that homosexuality is as reprehensible as racial or religious bias.
The Court has no business imposing on all Americans the fact that animosity towards homosexuals is evil.
The principle underlying the Court's opinion is that one who is accorded equal treatment under the laws, but cannot as readily obtain preferential treatment has been denied EP.
The world has never heard of such a principle that any group is denied equal protection when it must have to recourse to a more difficult level of political decision-making than others.
Basically, this happens whenever a disadvantage is imposed. It is ridiculous to consider this a denial of equal protection.
It is obvious that there is a legitimate rational basis for the prohibition of special protection for homosexuals.
In Bowers, we held that the Constitution does not prohibit making homosexual conduct a crime.
If a state can make homosexual conduct criminal, surely it can enact other laws disfavoring homosexuality or prohibiting homosexuals from preferential treatment.