Pro-family advocates criticized a new Colorado law, calling it the "Pandora's box" of what they said would be a stream of future cases involving sexual predators.
Senate Bill 200 was signed into law Thursday and is meant to combat discrimination. The new law makes it illegal in Colorado to discriminate against gays, bisexuals and transgendered people when buying a home, renting an apartment or using public accommodations.
But opponents of the bill said it would allow anyone who "perceives" or declares one's "sexual orientation" as a man or woman to be granted full access to all public facilities throughout the state, including restrooms and locker rooms.
"With SB 200, we no longer have two 'sexes;' we enter a brave new world with a myriad of 'sexual orientations' that must not be discriminated against, upon pain of the substantial civil and criminal penalties contained in the bill," explained Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family Action, in an editorial written for the Denver Post.
One aspect of the law also enables transgenders to use public restrooms in which they feel most comfortable.
"The governor felt that this bill, SB200, was about fairness and treating people equally," said Evan Dreyer, spokesman for the governor's office, according to Colorado Springs' The Gazette. "It essentially updates anti-discrimination laws that in some cases have not been updated for 50 years."
Minnery argues that under the new law, small business owners could also be penalized with fines and subject to federal prosecution and imprisonment for refusing to do business with someone because of one's religious belief that homosexuality is wrong.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson released a statement saying, "The legislation lists every conceivable type of organization to which this law applies, including restaurants, bathhouses, massage parlors, mortuaries, theaters and 'public facilities of any kind.' Those who would attempt to protect females from this intrusion are subject to a fine of up to $5,000 and up to one year behind bars." The prominent Christian family organization began sponsoring radio advertisements on May 21 in Colorado Springs and Denver denouncing the bill.
"Henceforth, every woman and little girl will have to fear that a predator, bisexual, cross-dresser or even a homosexual or heterosexual male might walk in and relieve himself in their presence," he added.
Bruce DeBoskey, regional director of Denver's Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights organization, downplayed the dangers Dobson described.
"It is unfortunate that they feel they have to exaggerate the dangers and play on people's fears," DeBoskey said, as reported by The Gazette. "This law is about fairness and justice for all people living in this state."
Meanwhile, Dobson says that there is little that can be done to stop the new law, which is perhaps the worst thing about it.
"[B]ecause of the way this bill is written, it is not subject to the initiative process. There is no recourse," Dobson said.