The gay rights movement in the US is often traced to June 27, 1969, in New York City, when police raided a Greenwich Village bar, the Stonewall Inn, and bar patrons rebelled in protest. Seven years later, in 1976, in Dade County, Florida, Anita Bryant led the first religious campaign against gay rights.
In Colorado an amendment was placed on the ballot in 1992 by a religious group centered in Colorado Springs.
Amendment 2 reads as follows:
"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 [Colorado] Constitution shall be self-executing."
At that time there were 2 little gay guys in Pueblo, Colorado. Fortunately there were also two or 3 mothers and a friend who had lost a friend to AIDS in a loosely held group known as PFLAG. I found them in 1990 when they were meeting in the basement of the old Red Cross building on Pueblo Boulevard in an unmarked room to protect our identity. Yep I was one of them. We spoke out against Amendment 2, but in hushed tones. We put up NO on 2 signs and they were promptly torn down.
The amendment was passed by a majority of Colorado voters in November 1992, and was to take effect on January 15, 1993. The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal Defense Fund, the cities of Boulder, Aspen, and Denver, and individual plaintiffs joined forces under the leadership of attorney Jean Dubofsky, a former Colorado Supreme Judicial Court judge, and filed a motion in Denver District Court seeking to enjoin the governor and state of Colorado from enforcing Amendment 2. On January 15, 1993, Judge Jeffrey Bayless granted a preliminary injunction, giving the plaintiffs the first victory in a legal struggle over the constitutionality of Amendment 2. That injunction was later made permanent, but was then appealed to the US Supreme Court.
Now SCEA members! Listen up. On the night of the election, when Amendment 2 passed with a clear majority a phone tree went into action and a business on Elizabeth Street opened for a gathering of probably 50-60 gay people. Many of them wore “Don’t shoot! I am really a black bear.” Because a measure protecting the black bears had passed.
Out of that meeting grew a need to protect our gay friends. We knew we must let people know that gay existed and existed in Pueblo Colorado. A group was formed at that time and christened with the name “Pueblo After 2.” Our symbol was an upside down pink triangle. We quietly infiltrated the straight world. The pioneers in this movement were the 2 gay guys, Joe Roderick and our Beloved late David Hackenberry. Thanks also to Donna, Carolyn, Warren, and the list goes on and on. As gay people came out of the closet and awareness swept Pueblo and all of Colorado. When amendment 2 was faded in the background we became politically active and needed a new name. Up jumped Southern Colorado Equality Alliance. From that came Out Front Youth Group, and other splinter groups that are now respected and do many good works. I never thought I would live to see a gay pride parade, but now I actually participate.
We did not get where we are by violence, hatred or intimidating people. Westboro Baptist Church would have us stoop to their level, but we will not. We are equal citizens of this great country and we are treated as equals not because of a law, but because we are equal. I thank Gilbert Ortiz for standing with our friends and family against the forces of evil.
SCEA, that is where you came from. I was there. I am a charter lifetime member of Pueblo After 2 and am supposed to get the newsletter from you, but you have forgotten about your roots. So I just wanted to remind you.