TUESDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Saja Hindi:
For Rep. Stephen Humphrey, R-Severance, the legislation is about doing what he says his district expects of him. As a Christian man, that includes preserving what he views as religious freedoms. Humphrey introduced two bills that would affect LGBTQ people: House Bill 1272, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and only allows adoptions by heterosexual couples; and House Bill 1033, which would let businesses refuse to serve LGBTQ people based on religious beliefs.
It’s a matter of “religious freedom” to outlaw marriages and families that exist happily today? That doesn’t seem like anything Jesus would do.
This coming Thursday afternoon in the Colorado House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, a marathon and intestinally challenging hearing will review (and barring something bizarre and unexpected, kill) a slew of Republican-sponsored bills featuring some of the more overt discriminatory intent in any legislation we’ve seen in Colorado in recent years. A press release from LGBT advocacy group One Colorado a few days ago warned these were coming:
During the second regular session of the 72nd Colorado General Assembly, House Republicans have introduced a total of six anti-LGBTQ bills in the first three weeks of session. The most recent, introduced on February 3rd, are HB20-1273 “Equality And Fairness In Youth Sports Act” and HB20-1272 “Colorado Natural Marriage And Adoption Act.” One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans and their families, released the following statements:
“This is the most aggressive slate of anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced in the past decade. [Pols emphasis] In the first few weeks of this legislative session, we have seen attacks on transgender Coloradans, same-sex parents, LGBTQ youth, and the list goes on. These bills do not represent who we are as Coloradans, and One Colorado will fight these bills every step of the way.” – One Colorado Executive Director, Daniel Ramos
“Some say it’s not the government’s role to interfere with personal liberty. Some would say this is textbook overreach. I would say it’s time to work on actual issues that improve people’s lives here in Colorado.” – Representative Alex Valdez (D-Denver), Chair of the LGBTQ Caucus
House Bills 20-1114 and 20-1273 both have Rep. Shane Sandridge of Colorado Springs as their primary sponsor, because apparently transgender people really keep him up at night. These bills strike at the heart of basic rights for transgender people by making pertinent medical treatments a felony if given to minors, and excluding transgender people from sports events in the event a participants gender is “disputed.” Rep. Stephen Humphrey, the GOP House minority’s leading “gynotician” sponsor of perennial abortion ban bills, is the prime sponsor of the “Colorado Natural Marriage And Adoption Act,” which says that the U.S. Supreme Court can stuff it on marriage equality–and families with children adopted by same-sex couples should be broken up.
Finally, there’s the “Live and Let Live Act,” a returning bill to “roll back protections for LGBTQ Coloradans in the areas of adoption and foster care, healthcare, housing, employment, and public spaces on the basis of religious freedom.” Back in 2018, Humphrey described this as legislation to “ensure that tolerance is a two-way street,” which we assume is an attempt to morally equate one group’s right to exist with a another group’s right to hate the first group.
There was a time, not so long ago, when at least a faction of Colorado Republicans pleaded with the wedge-issue warriors in their midst to stop these gratuitous insults and threats against a segment of the population most Americans believe should have the same rights and protections as anyone else, correctly arguing that politically it is doing more harm than good. With the GOP’s lurch right accelerating under President Donald Trump, that good advice seems more dated and forgotten than ever.
And like reproductive rights, it’s a reminder that the unthinkable is never more than one election away.