Colorado loses ‘Stand’ in anti-gay law protest

Laurel Entertainment Inc. has opted not to film its ABC miniseries “Stephen King’s The Stand” in Colorado because of the state’s recent passage of Amendment 2.

That measure voids and prohibits legislation that would protect gays and lesbians from discrimination and bars the state’s courts from considering discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In a Nov. 25 letter to the Colorado Motion Picture and Television Commission, Laurel president/CEO Richard Rubinstein said, “A new factor surfaced and swung the decision away from Colorado, i.e., the passage of what we consider to be anti-gay legislation by the majority of Colorado voters.”

Yesterday he told Daily Variety that his intention is not to punish the state economically, and added, “I’m not saying people shouldn’t go to Colorado.”

Instead, Rubinstein said, the decision was “a way to voice my protest–to publicize my dissatisfaction and hopefully raise people’s consciousness.”

Michael Klein, director of the Colorado Motion Picture and Television Commission, responded in a letter dated yesterday, saying, “I share your distress at the possible ramifications of the amendment. The importance of protecting civil rights for all people is … a high priority of the Colorado Film Commission.”

Klein also told Daily Variety yesterday, “As a state employee, I am mandated to uphold the laws as they exist. As head of the commission, I will not tolerate discrimination against anyone, anytime.”

Though Laurel’s Rubinstein made it clear he was not calling for a general boycott of Colorado, others in the entertainment community yesterday came down decisively in favor of one–notably Whoopi Goldberg, director Jonathan Demme and producer Ed Saxon.

Goldberg, Demme and Saxon agreed not to attend events or to film or vacation in the state, at the request of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation/LA. GLAAD/LA was one of the first orgs to call for a boycott, along with Coloradans and Californians for Fairness in the Nation (COFFIN).

Others in the industry who have joined in the GLAAD/LA boycott include Barry Krost, Steven E. and Jeri Barchilon de Souza, Bruce M. Ramer, Rick Rosenberg, Bob Sertner and Daniel J. Sladek. Among those who have joined the boycott at COFFIN’s request are Irving Azoff and Howard Rosenman.

In soliciting support for a boycott, GLAAD/LA quoted Barbra Streisand, who appeared to endorse a boycott in a speech Nov. 18 at a benefit for AIDS Project Los Angeles. In the speech, she said, “There are plenty of us who love the mountains and rivers of that beautiful state, but we must now say clearly that the moral climate there is no longer acceptable, and if we’re asked to, we must refuse to play where they discriminate.”

Since delivering the speech, Streisand has backpedaled on the issue, reportedly exempting Aspen and stressing she meant people should boycott only “if we’re asked to.”

Her publicist, Lee Solters, clarified her second statement in yesterday’s New York Times, saying Streisand would endorse a boycott if asked “by a responsible group, such as the American Civil Liberties Union.” (Solters claims he never heard of–or from–GLAAD.)

In fact, the ACLU has not yet considered the issue of a Colorado boycott, but Allan Parachini, public affairs director for the ACLU of Southern California, said, “It’s quite likely we will endorse a boycott of Colorado. It will have to be approved by the board of directors. Endorsing it would be consistent with ACLU policy.”

In the past, the ACLU endorsed a boycott of Arizona for its refusal to observe the federal holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. It also has boycotted states that voted down the Equal Rights Amendment, and Idaho for its anti-abortion policy.

Parachini said regional ACLU chapters probably would take their cue on a boycott from the Colorado chapter, whose officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Likewise, Streisand has said she would “respect whatever strategy the people of Colorado think is most effective.”

Many Coloradans are ready to bite the bullet of a boycott. Other Coloradans are preparing a legal challenge to Amendment 2.

In other developments, “The Arsenio Hall Show” played host to Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and GLAAD/LA’s David Smith, who were scheduled to discuss the boycott issue last night.

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