Colorado Facing Boycott Threat After Passage Of Anti-Gay Law

DENVER, Colo. - Gov. Roy Romer met with business, religious and gay-rights leaders yesterday hoping to stave off a threatened national boycott of Colorado's tourism industry in protest of a new state law banning protected status for homosexuals.

After the 90-minute closed door meeting with community leaders, Romer, who campaigned against the law, known as Amendment 2, called for an all-out effort to correct what he termed a statewide misunderstanding about the "meaning of diversity."

"Amendment 2 passed, it's law and it is my obligation to uphold it and enforce it until it is challenged or interpreted in the courts," Romer said. "Meanwhile, we need this group talking about what steps we can take to better understand diversity."

Amendment 2, which passed by a 53 percent majority in last Tuesday's election, prohibits Colorado and local governments from passing gay-rights laws, and repeals existing anti-bias ordinances in Denver, Boulder and Aspen. Denver City Attorney Dan Muse said yesterday that he intended to challenge Amendment 2 on grounds that it violates the state constitution's home-rule provision as well as equal-rights protections under the U.S. Constitution.

"Amendment 2 is not acceptable, it's reprehensible and we do not want to let it stand," said Susan Anderson, director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Denver and one of six community leaders who met with Romer yesterday.

"The people of Colorado did not understand," Anderson said, "that without civil-rights protection we can be ejected from our homes and the places we work simply for being gay or lesbian."

Voter approval of the law, which takes effect Jan. 4, has been blamed by community leaders here for a rash in gay-bashing incidents ranging from verbal abuse to bomb threats.

Denver's Tattered Cover bookstore was evacuated Thursday after a caller said an explosive device had been planted because gay people were employed there. Bars catering to gay customers have reported an increase in hostile telephone calls, verbal confrontations and graffiti.

Calls are now being issued for a national boycott of Colorado's important tourism industry.

As of yesterday, groups including the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund of Washington and the American Association of Physicians for Human Rights, a San Francisco-based advocacy group for gay physicians in the United States and Canada, had canceled yearlong plans to hold annual conventions in Denver in 1993.