Senate backs protecting gays from firing |

Senate backs protecting gays from firing

DENVER – Gay people would be protected from being fired based on their sexual orientation under a bill given initial approval by the Senate on Monday.The measure (Senate Bill 25) must pass another vote before it can be sent to the House for consideration.Lawmakers have passed similar bills in the last two years but they both were vetoed by former Republican Gov. Bill Owens. Sponsor Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, said such bills have been introduced periodically since 1975.The bill would add sexual orientation as well as religion to the list of things employers aren’t allowed to consider when hiring, firing or making promotions. People who are discriminated against on those grounds would be able to file a lawsuit.Sen. Paula Sandoval, D-Denver, unsuccessfully tried to remove religion from the bill, because she said it could prevent religious groups like Catholic Charities from hiring people who share the same faith. She said she supported protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination.Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, said he wanted to know whether the bill would allow a male school teacher to dress as a woman. The bill allows employers to establish a dress code but Harvey wanted to know whether someone who wanted to dress as a member of the opposite gender would be protected by the proposal.Veiga declined to address that during the debate but Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, D-Denver, said lawmakers don’t have to answer “absurd arguments” aimed at making a mockery of their proposal.”I think the essence of this bill is that people want to be treated like everyone else,” Gordon said.Harvey said his question wasn’t humorous and said it went to the most important aspect of the bill.

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