A newspaper ad in Monday's Daily Sentinel is stirring up controversy over a new law that bans certain types of discrimination in public facilities. Some argue the law encourages pedophilia while others say nothing could be farther from the truth.
In May, Governor Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 200 into law. The law extends state bans on discrimination to include religion and sexual preference when it comes to using public places, employment, and housing and lodging.
But one group says in doing so, the law opens up public bathrooms to either sex. Christian activists launched an ad in Monday's Daily Sentinel, decrying the state's decision by showing a young girl walking out of a stall where a man awaits her.
Bruce Houknecht, with Focus on the Family Action, is one of the men behind the ad. He says he sees a huge problem with this law for some local businesses.
"Small business owners in Colorado, who operate on faith based principles will be forced against their will to promote lifestyles with which they don't agree," said Houknecht.
The ad lists the names of state leaders who voted for the bill, one of which was State Representative Bernie Buescher. He says the ad grossly misrepresents what the purpose of the legislation was.
"You can't discriminate in public accommodations based on religion or sexual preference," said Buescher. "That's what the bill does."
Buescher says the law is about equality, not bathrooms, and that there are already laws in place to protect children from illegal sexual predators.
"You read the bill, you'll see, it is not about bathrooms," said Buescher.
State Senator Josh Penry voted against the bill. He says the law is just bad public policy and lawmakers' attention would be better served on more important issues.
"What makes it most offensive is that Democrats work on these types of bills when you have four dollar a gallon gasoline," said Penry. "Where are their priorities?"
But Buescher says the bill received bi-partisan support, the support of several statewide political groups, and that similar laws exist in 15 other states.
"It was a relatively non-controversial bill when it went through the state legislature," said Buescher.
With the law in place, if someone is told they can't use a public facility based on religion or sexual preference, the offender could be fined up to $500.
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