The Governor of Colorado has been called “out of step” with his State after rejecting a law which would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Bill Owens vetoed the legislation for the second time claiming it would see an increase in lawsuits against local businesses and “had the potential to be costly for Colorado businesses due to an expansion of their tort liability.”

He claimed that there is already a current law which protects employees from being sacked for their actions outside of work.

Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said: “Governor Owens’ veto is out of step with the voters and businesses in Colorado.

“Fears that this legislation would cause some onslaught of lawsuits can easily be assuaged by simply reading the bill. If an employee feels they’ve been wrongly discriminated against, they go through a step-by-step administrative procedure that rarely makes its way to court. These claims would be no different. Governor Owens is making excuses that don’t hold water.”

Seventeen states and Washington, DC, have laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and seven prohibit gender identity-based discrimination, including Colorado neighbour New Mexico.

Major employers in Colorado, including Coors Brewing Company and Qwest Communications, have implemented non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation.