Colorado was known as the “hate state” after a movement started in Colorado Springs in the 1990s to block LGBTQ+ rights in the state’s constitution.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – Colorado Springs was once known as the “City of Hate” after a movement to block LGBTQ+ rights was launched there in the early 1990s.
LGBTQ+ advocates say the city has come a long way since then, but filming at Club Q shows there’s still work to be done.
“We want people to feel safe,” said Richard Skorman, co-owner of Poor Richard’s and a former Colorado Springs City Councilman. “We are a place where everyone is welcome.”
The Pride flags flying in front of Poor Richard’s in downtown Colorado Springs are not new. But this week they have become more important than ever.
Skorman opened a shop almost five decades ago. He remembered how different his city used to be.
“Colorado was the ‘hate state’. There was a nationwide boycott. Then there was a statewide boycott of Colorado Springs in particular. We were the ‘hate city’ in the ‘hate state,'” Skorman said. “This is where Amendment 2 originated. Colorado For Family Values was from Colorado Springs.”
In the early 1990s, religious groups in Colorado Springs started a movement to amend the state constitution. Amendment 2 was passed by voters statewide in 1992 and made it illegal to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“In housing, employment and public accommodation. If someone happens to be LGBTQ and walks into a hotel, they could be denied a room,” Skorman said.
While Amendment 2 was passed by Colorado voters in 1992, it never really went into effect. After years of litigation, the United States Supreme Court found it unconstitutional and a violation of the 14th Amendment.
Skorman was one of the leaders of the anti-Amendment 2 movement. He said Colorado Springs has become a scary place to live.
“It unleashed all of these people who had their fears and their prejudice and their hatred,” Skorman said. “They were outside our shop, they were harassing other shops. We had thrown a brick through our window with a note on it that said, ‘It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.’ Regular death threats.”
Three decades can make a big difference.
A new flag flies in Colorado Springs. This hangs on the building where Richard spent more than a decade as a city councilman.
The flag is a symbol of how much the city has changed and how much work still needs to be done.
“We’ve come this far. Today they hung a rainbow flag over City Hall,” Skorman said. “And then, for that to happen last Saturday night, it was a real blow to a lot of us.”
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