Denver, CO, March 9, 2015…The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) testified today in opposition to two right-to-discriminate bills that would have allowed individuals and business owners to claim that their religious beliefs permit them to refuse to follow laws that they do not like, including important non-discrimination laws. House Bill 1161 was defeated on a 9-2 vote and House Bill 1171 was defeated on a 7-4 vote. Both bills were debated before the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee.
Scott L. Levin, ADL Mountain States Regional Director, said:
For more than a century, ADL has been an ardent advocate of religious freedom for all Americans. Despite the proponents’ attempts to cast the proposed legislation as bills to enhance religious freedoms, the bills actually would have provided people with a right to discriminate against Coloradans by claiming their religion gives them justification to do so.
These bills could have allowed first responders to refuse assignments they that they find religiously offensive, such as assisting or guarding a religious institution of another faith. A pharmacist in a rural area with only one pharmacy could have refused to fill prescriptions for daily birth control pills, leaving people without the medications they need. The bills could have even allowed a public employee adhering to an extremist religion to refuse to provide service to a person who is Asian, Black, Hispanic, White or Jewish.
We have worked so hard to pass laws that protect those who are marginalized and discriminated against in our society. Religious disapproval should not exempt any individual or business from following Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act.”
ADL Mountain States Region Board member Stuart Pack represented ADL and testified against House Bill 1161 and Board member Melinda Quiat testified against House Bill 1171.
The committee voted to postpone both bills indefinitely. As a result, neither measure will be addressed again during the 2015 legislative session. ADL is grateful to Pack and Quiat for testifying and to its Government Affairs Sub-Committee for its commitment to speaking out against policies that promote discrimination and attack religious freedom.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.