Rocky Mountain News IDed anti-gay activist only as former "car dealer"

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In an article about competing ballot initiatives involving gay unions, Rocky Mountain News reporter Myung Oak Kim failed to identify Will Perkins as a longtime activist against gay rights, referring to him simply as a "former Colorado Springs car dealer." Kim did not note that as chairman of Colorado for Family Values, Perkins led a 1992 campaign to amend the Colorado Constitution to prohibit state or local governments from barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In a July 24 article about competing ballot initiatives involving gay unions, Rocky Mountain News reporter Myung Oak Kim failed to identify Will Perkins as a longtime activist against gay rights, referring to him simply as a "former Colorado Springs car dealer." Perkins, along with state Rep. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud), is backing a signature-gathering campaign to create a ballot initiative that would amend the Colorado Constitution to prohibit the state from creating domestic partnerships "similar to that of marriage." That initiative is an attempt to trump a referendum already placed on the ballot by the Colorado legislature that would allow same-sex partners to be registered by the state and entitle them to certain benefits and rights. Kim did not note that as chairman of Colorado for Family Values, Perkins led a 1992 campaign to amend the Colorado Constitution to prohibit state or local governments from barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The article also discussed two other proposed initiatives for which proponents are gathering signatures. One would amend the Colorado Constitution to state that "only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage" in Colorado. The other would amend the Colorado Constitution to declare that domestic partnerships are not "similar to marriage" in an attempt to prevent the nullification of the referendum if both it and the Lundberg-Perkins amendment pass.

Perkins's 1992 initiative, Amendment 2, passed, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down in 1996. The court ruled that Amendment 2 violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it "classifie[d] homosexuals ... to make them unequal to everyone else."

The News has previously reported Perkins's role in the Amendment 2 campaign. In an April 26 article, reporter Kevin Flynn noted that the current initiative to ban domestic partnerships "is backed by Will Perkins, author of ill-fated Amendment 2." And on May 13, Kim reported that "Perkins, the former car dealer from Colorado Springs and Amendment 2 spokesman, has resurfaced as a sponsor of a new initiative, aimed at the November ballot, to deny legal recognition of civil unions or domestic partnerships."

During the 1992 campaign, Colorado for Family Values produced several ads in support of Amendment 2, including one that featured footage of a gay-pride parade. A voiceover on the ad stated:

Gays have special rights. School kids are taught this lifestyle is healthy and normal -- by law. Do we want to protect our children? Yes we do. Vote yes on 2.

Perkins himself was quoted in an October 4, 1992, New York Times article about several ballot initiatives fighting gay rights, including Amendment 2. The Times reported: "If someone loses a job or apartment because he or she is homosexual, that judgment is legitimate, say anti-gay leaders. 'You can be fired for being fat, skinny, ugly, any reason,' said Mr. Perkins, the Colorado car dealer."

From the July 24 Rocky Mountain News:

[State Rep. Kevin] Lundberg said he's not sure his campaign, Protecting Colorado Children, will get enough signatures.

Lundberg launched his initiative in April when it became clear the legislature would send Referendum I to the ballot. Joined by former Colorado Springs car dealer Will Perkins, Lundberg has raised the smallest amount of money by far, about $8,600. He said he has a few thousand petition signatures, but claims to have 1,200 volunteers gathering signatures. Lundberg's proposal would ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment that prohibits the state from creating any legal status similar to marriage for same-sex couples.

"I don't have a guarantee that we're going to get it done, but I'm confident that we're within striking range," Lundberg said.

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