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Ten Years After Amendment Two: Colorado Voter Attitudes on Gay Rights 1992-2002 Presentation
American Association of Public Opinion Research May 2004 Phoenix, Arizona
Ciruli Associates 1490 Lafayette St. #208 Denver, CO 80218 PH (303) 399-3173 FAX (303) 399-3147 www.ciruli.com
Background Colorado voters approved Amendment 2 by 53 percent to 47 percent on November 3, 1992.
The constitutional amendment banned the state of Colorado or any division of local government from adopting or enforcing policies to protect the rights of homosexuals, lesbians or bisexuals. It reversed local anti-discrimination ordinances in Aspen, Boulder and Denver.
July 19, 1993, Colorado Supreme Court affirmed a grant of preliminary injunction against amendment.
December 14, 1993, Judge H. Jeffrey Bayless granted permanent injunction.
Evans vs. Romer, Colorado Supreme Court affirmed trial court’s decision (1994)
May 20, 1996, U.S. Supreme Court struck down (6 − 3) Amendment 2 as unconstitutional. “A state cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws,” Justice Anthony Kennedy Romer vs. Evans, 116 S. Ct. 1620 (1996) 2
The Ballot Language Amendment 2 Shall there be an amendment to Article II of the Colorado Constitution to prohibit the State of Colorado and any of its political subdivisions from adopting or enforcing any law or policy which provides that homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, conduct, or relationships constitutes or entitles a person to claim any minority or protected status, quota preferences, or discrimination?
Statewide Anti-gay Initiatives State/Year 1 1 1 1
Colorado/1992 Idaho/1994 Maine/1995 Oregon/1994
Colorado for Family Values Idaho Citizens Alliance Concerned Maine Families Oregon Citizens Alliance
53% 49% 47% 44%
Oregon Citizens Alliance
Direct Democracy and Gay Rights Initiatives After Romer, in The Politics of Gay Rights, 2000 1) Repeal
existing local protections/prevent future protections 2) Adopt new restrictions on gay rights
Recent Colorado Political History 1986 1988
Roy Romer elected governor (Democrat) Tim Wirth elected senator (Democrat) Tax limitation amendment defeated
Romer re-elected Term limits approved Tax limitation defeated
Clinton won state Ben Nighthorse Campbell elected senator (Democrat) Tax limits and gay rights limits approved Vouchers defeated
Dole won state Wayne Allard elected senator (Republican)
Bill Owens elected governor (Republican)
Bush won state 5
Amendment 2 Election Results and Follow-up Poll Election Day Nov. 1992
Follow-up Poll Feb. 1993
Question: If you could vote today on Amendment 2, how would you vote, “yes” or “no”? Ciruli Associates, N426, 1993 6
Data Sources Statewide public opinion research with Colorado voters.
1993 post-election survey –
February 1993 statewide survey of 426 registered voters (±4.3 percentage points). Election data from November 1992 general election.
2002 baseline survey –
September-December 2002 telephone survey conducted for Gill Foundation
Computer generated random stratified sample of 900 adult Colorado residents who are registered voters (±3.3 percentage points)
2003 follow-up survey –
August 2003 statewide survey of 600 registered voters (±3.8 percentage points) conducted for Ciruli Associates
Findings Colorado voters passed Amendment 2 despite progressive views on gay rights and a moderate political culture
Colorado voters favor gay legal rights in 1993, 2002 and 2003
Colorado voter support for legal rights equals or exceeds national opinion
Colorado voters have less moral reservations concerning gay sexual relations than national opinion
Colorado voters are more hospitable toward gay rights in 2002 than 1993, a trend similar to national opinion
Colorado voters state they would not pass a new gay rights limit in 2002
Like national opinion, Colorado voters do not support gay marriage; support for legal rights declined from 2002 to 2003 8
Colorado Voters and Legality of Homosexual Relations
Colorado Voters 1993-2002 86% 71%
Don' t know
Question: Do you believe homosexual relations between two consenting adults in the privacy of their own home should be legal or illegal? Ciruli Associates, N900, 2002 Ciruli Associates, N426, 1993 9
National Polls and Legality of Homosexual Relations National Surveys 1992-2002 Gallup 1992
48% 44 8
52% 43 5
Legal Not legal Don’t know
Question: Do you think homosexual relations between two consenting adults should or should not be legal? Gallup, N1002, 1992 Gallup, 2002
Colorado Voters and Morality of Homosexual Relations Colorado Voters 1993-2002 1993
Always morally wrong
Almost always morally wrong Sometimes morally wrong Not morally wrong at all Don’t know
4 5 28 13
6 9 41 9
Question: Do you believe sexual relations between two consenting adults of the same sex is: Ciruli Associates, N600, 2003 Ciruli Associates, N900, 2002 11
National Polls and Morality of Homosexual Behavior National Surveys 1993-2002 NORC-GSS 1993
Almost always wrong Sometimes wrong Not wrong at all
4 7 22
5 7 32
Question: What about sexual relations between two adults of the same sex…do you think it is: NORC-GSS, N1606, 1993 NORC-GSS, N2832, 2002
Slide 13 Support and Opposition for Anti-Gay Rights Ballot Initiative Anti-Gay Rights Initiative Colorado Voters Here in 1992
Anti-Gay Rights Initiative New Voters Since 1992
Don't Know 5% Other 7%
Don't Know 8% Other 9% Support 34%
Oppose 54% Question:
Oppose 48% Ignoring any constitutional issues, if a similar proposal was on the ballot today, that is, an initiative that would ban Colorado’s local or state governments from enacting statutes or ordinances that protected gay rights, would you vote in favor or against?
As I mentioned, in 1992 residents voted on a ballot issue in Colorado that prevented cities, towns and the state from enacting civil rights protections based on homosexuality. It was referred to as Amendment 2. Ignoring any constitutional issues, if such a ban on gay civil rights protections was on the ballot today, would you support or oppose the ban? Ciruli Associates N212, 2002
Ciruli Associates N688, 2002
Amendment 2 Demographic Comparison—1993-2002
If You Could Vote Today on Amendment 2 1993 Support Oppose
2002 Support Oppose
Difference in Support
High school or less
N426, Feb. 1993
N688, Dec. 2002
The Ads—Special Rights Pro Amendment 2 advertisement Voice 1: Boy, this is going to be a crazy election. Voice 2: Yeah, what about this Amendment 2? I don’t have anything against homosexuals, but how am I supposed to vote? Voice 1: I’m voting yes on Amendment 2. A yes on Amendment 2 makes good sense for Colorado. Yes…we want to protect our children. Yes…we want to protect our churches and businesses. Yes…we want to protect our freedom of speech.
And, yes…we want to protect civil rights by not confusing legitimate minorities with sexual practices. That’s why yes on Amendment 2 makes good sense for Colorado. Homosexuals enjoy the same rights as other law-abiding citizens…but they’ve been writing “special” rights into our laws…and that’s not fair! Yes on Amendment 2 allows homosexuals to have equal rights, but not special rights. Voice 2: OK, I think I’ve got it. Homosexuals have equal rights; they want special rights. That’s not fair. I’m voting yes on Amendment 2. Colorado for Family Values
Special Rights or Equal Rights?
Do Gays and Lesbians Have or Not Have Equal Rights?
Do Gays and Lesbians Want Special Rights or Equal Rights? Don't Know 6%
Seeking Equal Rights 51%
Don't Know 9%
Seeking Special Rights 43%
Have Equal Rights 53%
Don't Have Equal Rights 37%
In general, do you think gays and lesbians are seeking special rights or are they seeking equal rights compared to other citizens?
In general, do gays and lesbians have equal rights or not have equal rights in Colorado today?
Ciruli Associates N900, 2002 16
Religious Attitudes and Behavior and Special or Equal Rights Special rights
Church more than once a week Born again Literal word of God (Bible) Mormon Church once a week Religion very important Protestant Christian Not literal word of God (Bible) Catholic
69% 64 63 52 52 50 49 47 45 44
23% 30 30 35 42 43 46 47 51 52
Not born again Religion fairly important Religion not very important Few times a year church Never attend church Written by men (Bible)
42 35 34 33 28 27
53 61 60 63 68 68 Ciruli Associates, N900, 2002
Why It Passed 1) Moral ambivalence 2) Framed as special vs. equal rights 3) Exceedingly angry year (500,000 more votes than 1990) Perot voters send a message. Middle and working class Democrats in anti-tax, anti-establishment revolt 4) New conservative power centers and growing grassroots movement; anti-tax, non-government schools. Strong underradar campaign 5) Liberal/moderate power structure distracted
Slide 19 Hierarchy of Protection of Specific Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights Legal protection for:
Benefits for partners
Serve openly in military
20% 31% 32%
Question: Next, I’d like to focus on what, if any, civil rights should apply to gay and lesbian citizens. As I read the following list, please tell me if you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the following rights for gays and lesbians. Ciruli Associates N900, 2002
Same-Sex Relations and Gay Marriage— Legal or Not Legal? Colorado Voters 2003
Not legally recognize
Colorado voters Question: In general, do you think sexual relations between two consenting adults of the same sex should be legal or not legal? Question: Do you believe the state of Colorado should or should not legally recognize gay and lesbian marriage, that is marriage between adults of the same sex? Ciruli Associates, N600, Aug. 2003 20