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Ritter signs controversial antidiscrimination bill

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Gov. Bill Ritter today quietly signed a controversial bill expanding the prohibition of sexual-orientationbased discrimination, over the vocal opposition of conservative Christian groups like Focus on the Family.

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The bill bans discrimination based on a person's religious belief or sexual orientation - including transgender people - in places of public accommodation, housing practices, family planning services and 20 other public spheres. Such prohibitions are already in place with regard to race. "I think it's a step in the right direction for Coloradans and civil rights," said Sen. Jennifer Veiga, a Denver Democrat who sponsored the bill. Ritter signed Senate Bill 200 this afternoon in his office, without any of the public ceremonies and news releases that came with six other bills he signed today. His spokesman, Evan Dreyer, said the governor was not deliberately trying to keep the signing quiet. In all, Ritter signed 20 bills today, Dreyer said. "There were hundreds and hundreds of bills that were passed by the legislature this year," Dreyer said. "We do many ceremonies and many announcements, but in reality we do just a fraction." But no bill this year has seen the kind of heated post-session attacks that SB 200 has. Focus on the Family launched radio ads and a media campaign urging Ritter to veto the bill. "The state legislature here in Colorado has frankly become just about as radical and extreme as the California Legislature, in an effort that was designed to obviously appease the homosexual community give access to all public restrooms by people of the opposite gender," Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said Wednesday on his regular radio broadcast, according to an online newsletter from the organization sent out later that day. Opponents said the bill would have serious consequences, such as opening up Colorado public restrooms and locker rooms to all genders and transgender people, exposing children and women to sexual predators. Dreyer said opponents were running a campaign of misinformation. "The claims that are made in this campaign are not based in fact. They are based in fear," Dreyer said. "All this does," Dreyer added, "is it brings across-the-board consistency to existing anti-discrimination laws." Bruce DeBoskey, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the opposition's claims were exaggerated and applauded the signing. "We think this is another important step in making Colorado safe and inclusive and welcoming to all those who live there," he said. John Ingold: 303-954-1068 or jingold@denverpost.com

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colorado signs bill to eliminate gender specific facilities