Focus on the Family Withdraws 'License to Discriminate' Amendment in Colorado

This weekend Tom Minnery, the head of Focus on the Family’s political arm CitizenLink, announced that the group will be withdrawing a so-called “Religious Freedom Amendment” from consideration in the upcoming election, citing what he deemed cumbersome rules on petitions. Zack Ford of Think Progress points out that the amendment effectively would give certain groups or individuals “veto power over all policy decisions,” as pharmacists could cite “a sincerely held religious belief” not to fill prescriptions like birth control, teachers could refuse to teach evolution, and employers could have free rein to discriminate against LGBT employees.

The Denver Post reports that Minnery is considering “another attempt at a ballot measure in the 2014 election cycle or look at a legislative push next year”:

Focus on the Family senior vice president Tom Minnery said Friday the conservative Christian advocacy group soon will withdraw its ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment prohibiting state interference with the religious freedom of a person or organization.

The draft language of the ballot measure said government may not directly or indirectly burden a person or organization by withholding benefits, assessing penalties or excluding a person or group from government programs or facilities.

"There's a tangled thicket of regulations that make it difficult to negotiate our way through the process," Minnery said. "When you think of a genuine grassroots effort by volunteers, (some rules) are a wet blanket in that process."

Minnery said there is pending federal litigation — the Independence Institute, Jon Caldara et al. vs. Bernie Buescher — challenging many aspects of state rules governing the initiative process. It could result in removing some of the worst thorns, Minnery said.

Minnery said one drawback in the process as it now stands is that anyone can file a civil lawsuit alleging fraud against ballot-petition circulators if any petition signers falsify information.

Colorado Springs-based Focus would consider another attempt at a ballot measure in the 2014 election cycle or look at a legislative push next year, Minnery said.

Focus also withdrew a similar measure in 2010.

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