One Colorado’s Priorities for the 2020 Legislative Session

Denver, CO — One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans and their families, announces their 2020 priorities for the legislative session. 

“Last year was a historic session for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families. One Colorado championed bills for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, with legislation that improves the everyday lives of LGBTQ youth, transgender, and nonbinary Coloradans. The strong bipartisan support of those bills further demonstrates that LGBTQ equality is a nonpartisan issue.

This session, we continue to advocate for vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community by working to affirm LGBTQ youth in foster care, increasing access to PrEP, PEP, and other HIV prevention medications, adding gender identity and gender expression to Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act, and banning the gay and trans panic defense. We look forward to lifting up the voices of the LGBTQ community and partnering with our bill sponsors to bring legislation forward that will address the gap between legal and lived equality of LGBTQ Coloradans and their families.”
– Daniel Ramos, Executive Director, One Colorado

One Colorado completed the One Colorado For All Statewide Tour in the fall of 2019, which hosted 18 community meetings across the state to hear from supporters on the issues that were impacting their communities. Those stops included: Breckenridge, Salida, Aspen, Denver, Durango, Colorado Springs, Greeley, Fort Collins, Westminster, Aurora, Louisville, Pueblo, Westcliffe, Alamosa, Highlands Ranch, Steamboat, Grand Junction, and Montrose. 

With over 105,000 supporters in all 64 counties across the state, One Colorado has one of the largest active supporter networks in the state. 

Through those community meetings and engagement with partner organizations, One Colorado’s top-tier legislative priorities include supporting the following pieces of legislation:

House Bill 20-1061 HIV Infection Prevention Medications Bill
When this bill goes into law, Coloradans will be able to go directly to a pharmacy to receive either an initial treatment regimen of PrEP or a full treatment regimen of PEP after a brief consultation with a pharmacist. The legislation will allow for pharmacists to dispense both PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) without a prescription from a physician. Pharmacists currently have the authority to dispense Plan B and naloxone without a prescription. The legislation also prohibits insurance companies from requiring patients to obtain authorization prior to using their benefits to obtain the medications and also prohibits insurers from requiring that a patient undergo step therapy.

“This bill is essential in the fight to end the AIDS epidemic once and for all. By increasing access to HIV prevention medications, we can reduce the rate of infection and ensure that at-risk Coloradans are protected against the virus.”
– Representative Alex Valdez (D-Denver), Chair of the LGBTQ Caucus, co-prime House sponsor of HB20-1061

“HIV disproportionately affects black, brown, and transgender communities, who already face disadvantages in accessing healthcare. This bill breaks down barriers and opens up HIV prevention medications to those who need it most.”
– Representative Leslie Herod (D-Denver), Chair of the Black Caucus, co-prime House sponsor of HB20-1061. 

Adding Gender Identity and Expression to Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act
In 2008, CADA was expanded to include discrimination against an individual based on their sexual orientation. At that time, conversations around gender expression and identity in relation to sexual orientation were just beginning. Over the past 12 years, it has become undeniably clear that an individual’s gender identity or expression can impact their lived experiences in the same manner as other factors currently covered under CADA.

“As society evolves, so does the language that we use. This cleanup bill will explicitly add gender identity and expression to Colorado’s existing Anti-Discrimination Act, strengthening rights for transgender, nonbinary, and genderqueer residents, workers, and visitors. By securing the protections that all LGBTQ people – indeed, all people – need to safely lead their lives and equally participate in society, we continue to lead by example that Colorado is open to all.”
– Representative Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo), Chair of the Joint Budget Committee

Gay and Trans Panic Defense Ban
The gay and trans panic defense is a legal strategy that cites a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the causal factor for a defendant’s violent reaction — including murder. In 2013, the American Bar Association (ABA) unanimously approved a resolution to urge governments to ban the use of this tactic, which resulted in nine states banning the defense. 

“The murders of black transgender women is becoming a crisis in this country. Fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color at the intersections of racism, sexism, and transphobia. At least 24 transgender victims were violently murdered in the United States in 2019. No one should ever be excused from murder because their victim is gay or transgender, and Colorado must send an indisputable message that we fully value the lives and dignity of all people, including black transgender women.”
– Representative Leslie Herod (D-Denver), Chair of the Black Caucus

Foster Family Training
Approximately one-third of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ. On an average day in Colorado,12 children or teens enter foster care because their parents are not providing a welcoming and affirming home. At this rate, communities across the state are in dire need of more foster parents. LGBTQ youth are over-represented in foster care and face an increased risk of both negative experiences and outcomes. This includes being twice as likely as their non-LGBTQ peers to report being treated poorly while in care; having a greater average number of placements than their non-LGBTQ peers; and are more likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to be placed in congregate care, including group homes.

“We want to ensure that all of Colorado‘s youth, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, grow up in homes that are both caring and affirming. Foster families are a critical, important part of caring for our youth. We want to ensure that all families receive training to support our children in foster care that includes affirmation of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
– Representative Meg Froelich (D-Englewood)

Those interested in learning more about these legislative priorities are welcome to attend One Colorado’s 2020 Legislative Kickoff on Thursday, January 16th at 5:30 PM at Pride and Swagger. This event is free to attend and open to the public. 

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