A voter referendum in Colorado
amended the State Constitution to prohibit any legislative, executive, or
judicial action designed to protect homosexuals.
This stopped cities and
municipalities in Colorado from banning discrimination in housing,
Colorado argued that this
protected the interests of employers and landlords to chose who they want
to associate with.
The US Supreme Court found the
The US Supreme Court noted
that the 14th Amendment's
right of equal protection must be balanced with the
practical necessity that most legislation classifies people for one
purpose or another, with resulting disadvantage to various persons or
The Court noted that the rational
basis test was the applicable
standard in this case.
The rational basis test says that if a law neither burdens a
fundamental right nor targets a suspect class, the law shall be upheld
so long as it bears a rational relation to some legitimate end.
The courts do not consider
homosexuals to be a suspect class.
The Court found that the
amendment does not bear a rational relationship to a legitimate
So even under the rational
basis test (the lowest standard of
judicial scrutiny), the law was still a violation of the Equal
Couldn't preventing people
from having to associate with those they find immoral be a 'rational'
and legitimate government purpose?
Based on the Court's
reasoning in this case, it appears that they were secretly applying a strict
scrutiny review, they just didn't
want to admit it because that would require them to find that
homosexuals were a suspect class, and the majority of the Justices probably weren't ready to
Colorado argued that the
amendment just puts homosexuals in the same position as other persons.
However, the Court found that "in making a general announcement that
homosexuals shall not have any protections form the law, inflicts on them
immediate, continuing, and real injuries that outrun any legitimate
justifications that may be claimed for it."
"The amendment imposes
a special disability upon those persons alone. Homosexuals are
forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without
"A law declaring that
in general it shall be more difficult for one group of citizens that for
all others to seek aid from the government is itself a denial of equal
protection in the most literal
In a dissent, it was argued
that the Court had recently ruled that it was constitutional to
criminalize homosexuality (Bowers v. Hardwick (478 U.S. 186 (1986)), so how could it be
unconstitutional to deny homosexuals preferential treatment as a protected