October 26, 2008 8:59 PM
Claim: Amendment 46 would end public sponsorship of such things as summer science camp for girls.
Rocky Truth Patrol says: Rock Solid
Emotions are running high on both sides of this proposed amendment to the state Constitution. So when we heard it might end summer science camp for girls, we were leery of hyperbole.
Turns out, both sides agree on what would happen to these camps and similar state-sponsored programs. The camps could either let boys in, or forego public funds and keep their focus on girls. But fair warning, both sides don't agree on what to call this change.
"Our opponents say the initiative would abolish programs. It won't," said Jessica Peck Corry, a public policy analyst with the Independence Institute, who is leading the Amendment 46 campaign. "The programs can still go on, they just can't grant preferential treatment if they take state tax dollars."
"It's a strange argument to say programs like these wouldn't be eliminated," said Melissa Hart, a University of Colorado law school faculty member who is leading opposition to the amendment. "If you say it has to be gender neutral or it can't get public funding, either way, you're eliminating the original program."
But no matter how you define "abolish" or "eliminate," if voters approve Amendment 46, there are several programs that could not continue as they are with public sponsorship.
According to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which recently announced it opposes the measure, these kinds of programs could be impacted:
* The Women in Engineering program at CU, which encourages girls to pursue engineering careers.
* The Colorado Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative, a network of 42 programs statewide that target low-income fathers, teen parents, fathers of children with disabilities, single parents, and families receiving child protective services.
* The adolescent maternity program at the CU Health Sciences Center, one of the oldest in the nation, which seeks to reduce medical complications common with teenage childbearing, prevent additional adolescent pregnancies and teach parenting skills.
*Battered women's shelters.
That last one is questionable, though. Would battered women's shelters be shuttered if Amendment 46 passes? Not likely, we find.
Amendment 46 would apply only to public employment, public education or public contracting. Domestic violence shelters in Colorado don't get state money. They do get federal funds administered by the state, and must follow federal guidelines that require they offer services to both women and men.
Could they get sued anyway? Sure.
Several lawsuits were filed against shelters in California after that state passed a law in 1996 almost identical to Colorado's proposed Constitutional Amendment 46. Both Amendment 46 and California's Proposition 209 are the brainchild of Ward Connerly, whose American Civil Rights Institute seeks to reform affirmative action nationwide.
We note that the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence says shelters in that state were sued even though they, too, offer services to men. The attorney behind the suits disputes that, though. The California attorney general's office says the state has spent at least $300,000 so far to defend one lawsuit filed in 2005.
A final note: Both sides of the contentious Colorado Amendment 46 argument agree on one more thing. If Amendment 46 passes, it will likely be followed by a spate of lawsuits here, too.