One Colorado’s 2018 Legislative Session Wrap-up

How did LGBTQ Coloradans and their families fare in the 2018 legislative session?

Colorado’s 2018 legislative session ended yesterday, and with it came mixed results for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and their families.

The Good
Continuation of the Colorado Civil Rights Division and Division:
In February, three Republicans on the Joint Budget Committee blocked funding for the Colorado Civil Rights Division — an agency that has existed for decades to protect the civil rights of all Coloradans, including LGBTQ Coloradans. Thankfully, this funding was restored by votes in the Colorado House and Senate.

At the same time, House Bill 1256 was introduced to reauthorize the Colorado Civil Rights Division, which investigates claims of discrimination from Coloradans in employment, housing, and public spaces. On the last day of session, Democratic and Republican members of the House and Senate were able to come together on a compromise that ensures the future of such a critical agency in our state.

Two religious exemption measures defeated:
Colorado saw two efforts to pass harmful religious exemption legislation in 2018. Whether in the areas of adoption and foster care, health care, housing, marriage, employment, or public spaces, House Bill 1206 was designed to roll back non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families in nearly every facet of their lives.This bill would have allowed businesses and individuals to claim that their religion gives them permission to exempt themselves from laws they don’t want to follow.

Late in the session, another religious exemption bill was introduced in the State Senate. Senate Bill 241 would have allowed adoption and foster care agencies to claim that their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions allow them to discriminate, meaning agencies could turn away prospective parents because they are of a different faith, divorced, don’t go to church regularly – anything that the agency says is not consistent with their sincerely held beliefs or morals.This legislation passed out of committee and then, thanks to a broad coalition of faith leaders, child welfare groups, adoption agencies, and parents, was voted down on the senate floor with two Republicans and the lone Unaffiliated member joining all the Democrats in making a statement that religious exemption laws are bad for Colorado.

The Bad
Efforts to ban conversion therapy on LGBTQ minors and reduce barriers for transgender Coloradans fail to pass:
For the fourth year in a row, a bill that would have banned conversion therapy on LGBTQ minors (House Bill 1245) and another bill that would have made it less burdensome for transgender Coloradans to update the gender on their birth certificate (House Bill 1046) were sent by Republican Senate Leadership to the “kill” committee.

Summary of the 2018 session
One vote. With two pro-LGBTQ bills being killed in the Senate State Affairs committee for the fourth year in a row, along with two of the most mean-spirited anti-LGBTQ bills we have seen in years being pushed in both chambers, it is clear we need to flip one vote in the Colorado State Senate for a new majority that is pro-equality and will stand up for all Coloradans, including LGBTQ Coloradans.

We can make sure these bills don’t meet the same fate in 2019, but only if you help One Colorado win back the ONE VOTE we need in the State Senate and elect a pro-equality governor. You can make sure this happens by doing any of the following:

In the coming weeks, we’ll be releasing our LGBTQ equality scorecard, so you can see how your legislators fared when it came to supporting equality this session, but we know our work doesn’t stop when the session ends. We still have a lot of work to do to make sure we win back the ONE VOTE we need to win a pro-equality majority and elect a pro-equality Governor in 2018. Help us do this in 2018 by becoming a monthly donor and volunteering with us.