Focus on the Fearmongers

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Nearly three hundred people showed up at the Capitol last week to speak against a relatively narrow bill concerning sex education. Many of them were passionate in their opposition; some were outright angry.

One woman gave a graphic description of fringe sex acts that drew audible gasps from the room. Another brandished a condom and talked about pedophiles grooming children.

Why were so many people so upset about a bill clarifying relatively obscure state regulations that have mostly been on the books for five years?

Quite simply, they were lied to.

Religious right advocacy groups blasted out “Action Alert” emails to their followers claiming that this bill would “require children in local public and charter schools to learn the explicit sexual techniques of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.”

The email sent on January 25, five days before the hearing, was signed by “The Family Policy Alliance Team (in association with our state ally, Colorado Family Action)”

The “Team” comprising the Family Policy Alliance includes Colorado’s own Focus on the Family and two out-of-state anti-LGBT hate groups: Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Research Council.

On the day before the hearing, another out-of-state hate group called the American Family Association sent portions of the FPA email to its followers and asked them to contact their legislators.

Hours later, the Lakewood-based Centennial Institute blasted its list with a very similar message under the headline: “No on Banning Traditional Family Values from Colorado’s Schools.”

(more…)

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Move Over, “Anus Granny”–Meet “Anus FISTING Granny”


Joan Poston.

The big if not altogether expected show this week in the Colorado legislature was Wednesday’s hearing in the House Health and Insurance Committee for House Bill 19-1032: a sex ed bill that requires schools who provide sex ed do so comprehensively and without discrimination. As we discussed on Thursday the testimony in this hearing went freakishly beyond the scope of the legislation, and descended into a 10-hour ordeal consisting mostly of homophobic churchgoers trying their darndest to gross each other out.

For many years, testimony on bills of this kind was highlighted by Rosina Kovar, who earned the nickname “Anus Granny” for her reliably over-the-top explicit characterizations of gay sex entered into the permanent legislative record. This year, although Kovar reportedly showed up to testify, by the time they called her name she had gone home for the night. But she needn’t have worried–in Kovar’s stead we have the testimony of Joan Poston, a defeated Republican House candidate who ran against Rep. Chris Kennedy in 2018. Poston’s three minutes of fame, moderated by the extremely patient committee chair Rep. Janet Buckner, were sufficiently non compos mentis that they deserve special recognition. Transcript of the above clip:

POSTON: Hello, my name is Joan Poston. I represent myself. I am a, um, scientist and I was a healthcare professional for 20 years with um, the city of Denver. I am, um, now retired. I um, when I saw this bill and I looked to see exactly what they were talking about when they said something was comprehensive and I said, I don’t know like I guess I’m going to have to go check my notes that I had when I went and had, um, training and when I worked at Eastside Health Center about um, sexually transmitted diseases, so I’m about to give you a couple of definitions.

Fisting. Fisting is when you take your fist and you shove it up somebody’s anus up to your wrist. But if you have somebody who is [UNINTELLIGIBLE] you can go up to your elbow. This is not a healthy and and it…

REP. BUCKNER: Um, Ma’am?

POSTON: Yes?

REP. BUCKNER: I can’t quite figure out where this is going…

POSTON: This is not a healthy relationship. This is actually…

REP. BUCKNER: Is this to the bill?

POSTON: Yes, because you are wanting comprehensive fact-based…

REP. BUCKNER: Experiential…

POSTON: Experiential. Yes. Um, I’ve got another one on rimming and I’ve got another one on golden showers, but I can actually move on to another topic if you’d like me to.

REP. BUCKNER: Um, I’ve read the bill and I’m not, I do not think this fits into the bill because we’re talking about comprehensive sex. Um…

POSTON: This is comprehensive sex…

REP. BUCKNER: Experiences.

POSTON: …And experiences with gay people.

[FAINT APPLAUSE, “Amen”]

REP. BUCKNER: Um…

POSTON: You know what, if you give me another minute…

REP. BUCKNER: I think, I think…in all…

POSTON: I will change the subject…

REP. BUCKNER: Well, in all…

POSTON: I will change out the subject and tell you that…

REP. BUCKNER: Um, wait a minute. Ms. Ms., uh…

POSTON: Ms. Poston.

REP. BUCKNER: I’m just trying to keep all the comments to the bill.

POSTON: Okay, so this next comment is to the bill and it is in a different form. So let’s redo this: the population of the gay lesbian and bisexual from the Center of Disease Control in 2014, 26.6% of adults identify as straight. 1.6% and identify as gay or lesbian. 0.7% identify as bisexual and 1.1 or something else. Not sure what but something else. So in Jeffco we have about, um, 64,500 children that are between the ages of, uh fourth grade and 12th. And That means that there are 2,000 students that would be identifying with this kind of sexual education and that is one student per 30.

REP. BUCKNER: Ms., Ms. Poston…

POSTON: Based on how, just one more thing–based on how much money is not in the school’s right now and how we have Denver public school teachers who are going to go out on strike…

REP. BUCKNER: Okay. This is not to the bill. I’m sorry. And your time is up.

POSTON: Thank you.

REP. BUCKNER: Next witness, please.

And with that, dear reader, “Anus Granny” has been dethroned! The transcript spells out Poston’s words, but it’s the glee in Poston’s voice that really tells the story. Suffice to say that proponents of accurate and non-biased sex ed are not the problem here, and there may be…an unmet need in the lives of its imaginative opponents.

That’s as much as we care to speculate, thanks.

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The Sad Spectacle Of Yesterday’s Sex Ed Hearing

UPDATE: Into the self-immolating spotlight steps, you guessed it, Rep. Lori Saine:

Here you have arguably Colorado’s most infamously shameful Republican, just days off her own national news ridicule for falsely claiming that “whites and blacks were lynched in nearly equal numbers,” complaining about “radical notions of sexuality and gender” and absurdly claiming that “Democrats are compounding their over-reach” by limiting testimony than in fact continued until nearly midnight! Even worse, the photo Saine is using (originally via House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s front group Advancing Colorado) was taken from a totally unrelated and highly emotional floor speech by Rep. Buckner, recounting racism she personally endured during last year’s commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the House.

On a day full of small-minded outrages, Rep. Lori Saine manages to stand out. Again.

—–

Packed hearing yesterday for HB19-1032.

The main event yesterday at the Colorado Capitol was a marathon hearing in the House Health and Insurance Committee that ran until almost midnight taking public testimony on a single bill: House Bill 19-1032, “concerning comprehensive human sexuality education.” Here’s the bill summary:

The bill clarifies content requirements for public schools that offer comprehensive human sexuality education and prohibits instruction from explicitly or implicitly teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.

Conservative Republicans organized by Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute delivered an unexpectedly large crowd of witnesses to testify against this bill. After over 300 people (not a misprint) signed up to testify, committee chair Rep. Janet Buckner announced her intention to cut off testimony after seven and a half hours, but in the end testimony went on until just before midnight before the bill was finally advanced on a 7-4 party line vote.

In that time yesterday into early this morning, Democratic lawmakers on this committee were subjected to what we can only describe as the worst verbal abuse from witnesses we’ve perhaps ever seen–easily as bad as the invective from opponents of the gun safety bills passed in 2013, and offensive in a way that should trouble any but the most hardened bigot against LGBT people. Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports:

(more…)

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Denver Archdiocese Hosts Conference Featuring A Notorious Proponent of “Healing” LGBTQ People

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Activists Denounce The Archdiocese’s Alignment with Anti-LGBTQ Extremist; Giant Banner in Front of Conference Quotes Kenote Speaker, “There is no such thing as a gay person… Satan delights in homosexual perversion”

Event Comes As Colorado Is Poised to Pass Legislation Banning So-Called “Conversion Therapy”

DENVER: The Denver Archdiocese is hosting a conference Saturday led by Andrew Comiskey, one of the country’s leading anti-LGBTQ bigots, who’s stated, among other things, that “there is no such thing as a ‘gay’ person,” and that “Satan delights in homosexual perversion, because it not only exists outside of marriage, but it also defiles God’s very image as reflected in male and female.”

The event, titled “Gender Matters: Fighting for a New Generation,” is run by Desert Stream/Living Waters Ministries, founded and directed by Comiskey, which works with churches on “healing” the “sexually and relationally broken.” It will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization, 1305 S, Monroe Street in Denver.

Desert Stream is listed as a resource on the website of Restored Hope Network, which promotes the “transformation” of “broken sexual sinners,” including LGBTQ people. Desert Stream’s online shop offers conversion therapy books and audio in English and Spanish.

“We do face a moral crisis,” said Rev. Amanda Henderson, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. “We face a moral crisis when people cause harm to others in God’s name. We are in crisis when we forget the opening chapters of our holy text, which name that all people were created in God’s image; good and worthy of love. Rather than preaching hate and bigotry, we should be speaking and acting with love and inclusion. We must honor the basic dignity and humanity of every person and assure that God’s unconditional love is experienced through our words and actions.”

(more…)

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You’ve Come a Long Way, Colorado–Let’s Party

Among the many inaugural festivities to break out your black tie for (or your “dressy Western,” this being Colorado), here is one that even if you don’t get to attend, every Coloradan should be proud to know is happening:

One Colorado Executive Director Daniel Ramos:

“As the state’s leading advocacy organization for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families, it’s important we recognize Colorado’s contributions to the history of the LGBTQ community, including the election of Colorado’s first openly gay Governor, Jared Polis. The story of Colorado from the Hate State to the Great State is a recognition of early investments from the Gill Foundation; expanding protections for LGBTQ Coloradans in areas of housing, employment, and public accommodations; protecting LGBTQ youth from bullying in Colorado schools; and ensuring transgender Coloradans can access identity documents that match who they are. Our work continues to improve the lives of LGBTQ Coloradans and their families. So for this night, we will honor the work of those who paved this path before us, celebrate this historic occasion of our country’s first gay governor, and then get back to work ensuring a more fair and just Colorado for all.”

Special guests will include:

The Honorable Barney Frank, the first gay member of Congress to come out voluntarily.

Melissa Etheridge, an Academy Award and Oscar Award winning singer-songwriter and gay rights activist.

David Mullins and Charlie Craig, the plaintiffs from the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission Supreme Court case.

Of all the inaugural wing-wings scheduled for the second week of January in addition to the main event, here’s one more that could draw out some truly big nationwide stars in addition to headlining LGBTQ royalty. Gov.-elect Jared Polis was already bicoastal A-Lister before being elected Colorado’s chief executive, and the historic moment his inauguration represents makes it an occasion for a party like Denver perhaps hasn’t seen since hosting the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

And when you reflect back on history a quarter century to 1992, the year both an unconstitutional constitutional amendment sanctioning discrimination against LGBTQ people in Colorado and another amendment stripping all future Colorado lawmakers of their most essential fiscal authority became law, this inauguration and the new straight Democratic control backing it up take on even more significance. From the Masterpiece Cakeshop court decision to the coming battles over spending priorities in Colorado, these are struggles that continue.

But Colorado has come a long way since that bad old days of 1992. We’re a “hate state” no longer.

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What’s Your Favorite Blue Wave Win?

This week’s historic victory for Colorado Democrats leaves in its wake innumerable stories of hard work and triumph. There are so many big markers for the history books, like the first gay man elected governor of any state, the sweep of downballot statewide offices, recapturing the Colorado Senate after four years at the mercy of a one-seat GOP majority, the come-from-behind wins growing the Democratic House majority to unexpected heights, major Democratic wins in suburban Denver local governments–we could go on and on, and over the next few weeks we’ll be expounding at length on what this all means.

Use this thread to tell us about the 2018 success stories you were close to, or enjoyed reading about, or anything else you found inspiring coming out of the midterm elections in our state. Before the inevitable plunge back into partisan squabbles and pundit second-guessing, take a moment to contemplate significance of what we’ve just been through.

You earned this moment, Colorado.

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Masterpiece Cakeshop: It’s Not Over

This year’s biggest Supreme Court decision pertaining to Colorado directly, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, was a lopsided 7-2 decision but a ruling very narrow in its scope. In the majority opinion, the fundamental question in the case, whether bakery owner Jack Phillips has the right to discriminate against same-sex couples in his bakery, was not conclusively addressed. The decision hinged on whether Phillips had been treated fairly by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, not the underlying question of Phillips’ discrimination against customers.

As the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports, this unanswered crucial question isn’t going away–and now that Jack Phillips has fashioned himself into a lightning rod, it’s no surprise he’s getting struck repeatedly:

Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that sided with a Christian baker over a never-baked wedding cake for a gay couple in Colorado, lawyers for that baker are now suing Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and members of the state’s Civil Rights Commission.

The Supreme Court’s decision rested largely on process, avoiding the deeper Constitutional issues around free speech, freedom of religion and civil rights, but lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which supported Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips of Lakewood, say in their complaint that a lawsuit is necessary to “stop Colorado’s continuing persecution of Phillips.”

The problem here is that neither Gov. John Hickenlooper nor the Civil Rights Commission are ‘continuing to persecute’ Phillips. Once it became clear that the decision in the case was not going to address the question of whether Phillips’ refusal to bake a same-sex wedding cake was unlawful discrimination, anyone could have predicted that there would have been another test case–and of course it was going to be Phillips getting the call. From the lawsuit as cited by Hutchins in his story:

…[S]ome Colorado citizens, emboldened by the state’s prosecution of Phillips, have targeted him. On the same day that the Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips’s case, a Colorado lawyer called his shop and requested a cake designed with a blue exterior and pink interior, which the caller said would visually depict and celebrate a gender transition. Throughout the next year, Phillips received other requests for cakes celebrating Satan, featuring Satanic symbols, depicting sexually explicit materials, and promoting marijuana use. Phillips believes that some of those requests came from the same Colorado lawyer. …

Any resident, after all, can visit Masterpiece Cakeshop, and any resident can file a complaint with the Civil Rights Commission. Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws were not struck down, and if a complaint is filed it must be investigated. To the extent that Phillips is a “target,” it’s because he made himself a target. None of that is the fault of the state or the laws on the books. No one is persecuting Phillips, but it is necessary post-Masterpiece to demonstrate that Colorado’s discrimination laws are still in force.

If Mr. Phillips doesn’t like that, there are other states with more accommodating laws for, you know, bigots.

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Blowing The Dog Whistle With Lang Sias

Rep. Lang Sias (R).

A story today in the Grand Junction Sentinel from reporter Gabrielle Porter covers Republican “Lite Gov” nominee Lang Sias, delivering in Grand Junction yesterday what seems to be the party’s central message about Democratic nominee Jared Polis: he’s from the dreaded socialist hellhole of Boulder, he’s so super far lefty-left that he would be as bad as [insert 20th Century Marxist tyrant here], and that everybody he knows is excited to “work with” Walker Stapleton:

Republican lieutenant governor candidate Lang Sias may have been speaking to at least one self-described “hard-core conservative” at a Grand Junction eatery Saturday afternoon.

But more than focus on his own resume — which includes three years as a state legislator and nearly three decades in the military with stints as a Navy fighter pilot before being tapped as running mate to GOP gubernatorial pick Walker Stapleton — the Arvada resident spent considerable time Saturday casting his as the more moderate ticket.

But then, in one of Colorado’s reddest towns and surrounded by the friendliest of fellow conservatives, Sias took the rhetoric a step further:

To laughs, Sias said he’s heard from several Democrats who he claimed confided in him that they plan to vote for Walker because “the alternative is 50 shades of crazy.” [Pols emphasis]

Full stop. We have little doubt that Sias and the Stapleton campaign will protest mightily at the suggestion that this little wisecrack was an example of what’s known in politics as “blowing the dog whistle”–a statement that thinly conceals its true intention of invoking prejudice against its target, picked up clearly by a prejudicial audience. Be assured that we absolutely do understand what what Lias was saying to a crowd of Mesa County GOP faithful–not trying to say, broadcasting loud and clear–and it is not acceptable. Stapleton himself is such a poorly composed public speaker that he can’t be trusted to pull off this kind of delicate work, so it appears to have fallen to “moderate” Rep. Sias to lay down the “dog whistle” smear the base wants.

There’s going to be more of this, folks. The coded attacks on Polis’ personal life that are being mounted right now by Stapleton’s campaign–and you can’t deny it’s the campaign now–are as ugly as they are inevitable. The full display of that animus between now and November is going to compel Colorado voters to make a fundamental choice.

As for Lang Sias, perhaps we did expect a little better. Clearly we shouldn’t have.

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HOMOPHOBIA WATCH ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Conservative Talker Is Pretty Sure Polis Is Part Of “Gay Mafia” And More…

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Colorado Times Recorder will not allow homophobic attacks, implied or direct, on Democratic candidate for governor Jared Polis to fester and spread in the conservative underworld or anywhere.

Whenever such homophobia emerges, we’ll diligently air it out on our news site, as I am doing today:

On FOX News radio in Loveland, Colorado, last week, host Karen Kataline worries that the Republicans’ timid treatment of Polis being gay will make it harder to defeat Polis.

Kataline says she’s okay with Polis’ sexual orientation, but she’s “pretty sure” he’s part of the “Gay Mafia,” which thinks “they should impose their will on all of us.”

She can’t possibly be homophobic, she says, because if she “had a problem with people being gay,” she wouldn’t have been “in the theater for decades.”

She concludes by saying the GOP is being blamed for being anti-gay, without any evidence.

Conservative Colorado Springs radio host Richard Randall is fine with gay people — and he can spot them with 100 percent accuracy on the periphery of the Pride parade in Colorado Springs!

But he hates it when they rub their sexuality in his face (so to speak). Also, he objects to reality shows on HGTV featuring a disproportionate number of gay couples. And he gets creeped out to imagine what it would be like to be gay.

Randall also thinks LGBTQ people should be “writing a thank-you card” to Trump for his travel ban, because the ban keeps people out of the United States who are known to throw “gay people off of buildings.”

On his Weekly Worldview podcast, Colorado-based talker Doug McBurney proposes “Homos Make Me Sick Day.”

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Huerfano County GOP: Jared Polis is “openly gay” and “against our American values”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE 2: As of late evening on July 2 the post has been deleted. The Huerfano GOP has still not replied to inquiries.

POLS UPDATE: Colorado Democrats jump in:

—–

In a June 27 Facebook post published the morning after Colorado’s primary election, Huerfano County Republicans urge anyone considering not voting for GOP gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton to “rethink” their decision. They explained their reason for supporting Stapleton instead of his Democratic opponent in the next sentence.

“Jared Polis is an openly gay congressman who is very much against our American values.”

Included with the text of the post is a link to Congressman Polis’ voting record. It is unclear whether the Huerfano GOP believes him to be “very much against our American values” because he is “openly gay” or because of his voting record.

A call to Huerfano County Republican Chair Debi Sporleder was not returned. Sporleder has previously signed her name to Huerfano County Republicans Facebook posts. This story will be updated with any statements received.

The party account also liked a commenter’s claim that Polis “would head us willy nilly down the socialist anti-Christian path” and who criticized Polis for not mentioning “his gayness” in any campaign ads, despite “purporting to be proud of it.”

Huerfano County is southwest of Pueblo. It is part of House District 62, represented by Rep. Donald Valdez (D – La Jara) and Sen. Larry Crowder’s (R – Alamosa) Senate District 35.

The full text of the Facebook statement reads as follows.

If you are unsure about voting in the November elections or think you don’t want to vote for Walker Stapleton, rethink…..Jared Polis is an openly gay congressman who is very much against our American values. A no vote for Stapleton is a yes vote for Polis. Check out his voting record. I’ll make posts about Stapleton, too.

This story was originally published by the Colorado Times Recorder.

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Gazette Lashes Out In Defense of Hate Groups

Phil Anschutz’s paper loves them some haters.

An editorial published in the Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette yesterday mounts a surprisingly bitter and sweeping attack on the Southern Poverty Law Center, who readers may know agreed to a significant settlement this week to a person organization accused of supporting anti-Muslim hate, later stating that accusation was in error.

For the Gazette, this settlement opened some kind of weird floodgate–where seemingly everyone ever labeled by the SPLC as a hate group now has a viable challenge:

The SPLC’s hate map is a political weapon that lists peaceful religious and civil rights organizations as haters. It places them alongside the legitimately hateful Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi’s, and the Westboro Baptist church of “God Hates” gay people.

This space occasionally provides examples of the SPLC hate-listing people the organization simply disagrees with. Here in Colorado Springs, the SPLC lists The Pray in Jesus Name Project, The Family Research Institute, and Christian Civil Rights Watch as “hate groups.”

Now, the Pray in Jesus’ Name project is the Youtube “ministry” run by former Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt–who has said enough unambiguously hateful things in his few years in the local spotlight to fill a warehouse. The Springs-based Family Research Institute, operated by notorious anti-gay quack psychologist Paul Cameron, seems to be a perfectly defensible listing by the SPLC as a hate group as well:

Among [Cameron’s] more recent defamations was an FRI pamphlet asserting the primary activity of the gay rights movement is “seeking to legitimize child-adult homosexual sex.” In another, he claimed that with “the rise of the gay rights movement, homosexual rape of men appears to have increased.” In yet another, he wrote, “Homosexuals were three times more likely to admit to having made an obscene phone call” and “a third more apt to report a traffic ticket or traffic accident in the past 5 years.”

…In late 2010, reacting to reports that his group had once again been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, Cameron told The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette that he believed homosexuality should be criminalized in America and that he was fine with a proposed bill in Uganda that would punish some gay sexual acts with death (“Whatever they decide, I’m OK with”). He also proposed heavily taxing gays and single adults because of their failure to produce children. And he suggested that gays and lesbians undergo a “public shaming” of some kind. [Pols emphasis]

So no, we’re not seeing the connection between this settlement with one person who was apparently wrongly accused by the SPLC of supporting hate against Muslims to everybody ever accused of being a hate group by the SPLC suddenly having a second chance at legitimacy. And the specific local cases the Gazette cites above inspire the opposite of sympathy.

And for all that, the Gazette wasn’t done:

The SPLC defines hate groups as organizations “that attack or malign an entire class of people … ”

Given this sensible definition, we wonder when the SPLC plans to include the Colorado Civil Rights Commission on its “Hate Map.”

It’s true that the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case sidestepped a ruling on the merits of the case by concluding that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had shown a “hostility toward religion” in its proceedings. But that doesn’t mean the underlying decision by the Commission that Masterpiece Cakeshop had discriminated was wrong. And to compare the work of a commission charged with protecting citizens from discrimination to groups on the SPLC’s hate group list who are avowed proponents of discrimination is offensive in the extreme–as much as President Donald Trump asserting there are “very fine people on both sides” after a white supremacist plowed his car into anti-Nazi protesters at Charlottesville.

In the end, what this broadcasts very clearly is that the Gazette’s sympathies do not lie with the victims of discrimination. They lie with the perpetrators of discrimination, and the Gazette was so eager to rehabilitate the fallen reputations of Gordon Klingenschmitt and his local hater ilk that they just proved it to the whole world.

Finally, for the search engines: Phil Anschutz, Clarity Media, AEGCoachella.

Because we think the cool kids who supply Anschutz with his billions really ought to know about this.

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SCOTUS Sides With Masterpiece Cakeshop in Strange Ruling

UPDATE #4: Via KUNC’s Bente Birkeland:

Statement from One Colorado:

Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court does not change our country’s long-standing principle that businesses open to the public must be open to all. While we are disappointed the Court ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop and their discrimination against Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, the fact remains that Colorado has a civil rights division and anti-discrimination laws that equally protect the fundamental rights of all Coloradans.”

“We strongly believe that the freedom of religion must be defended as one of our most fundamental values as Americans, but that freedom cannot be used to harm others or discriminate against others. Coloradans across our state – including LGBTQ Coloradans and their families – can take heart from today’s decision that no matter who you are, who you love, or what you believe, you will still be protected in our state from discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations.

—–

UPDATE #3: There appears to be plenty of agreement among legal experts that today’s ruling is fairly pointless. From CNN:

“Today’s decision is remarkably narrow, and leaves for another day virtually all of the major constitutional questions that this case presented,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. “It’s hard to see the decision setting a precedent.”

—–

UPDATE #2: Rep. Jared Polis, a leading Democratic candidate for governor:

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UPDATE: AP via Colorado Public Radio:

The Supreme Court of the United States has ended a five-year legal battle in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, ruling that the commission’s actions violated the Free Exercise Clause.

The court is not deciding the big issue in the case, whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse service to gay and lesbian people. [Pols emphasis]

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the the opinion for the court, which voted 7-2 to reverse a lower court’s ruling. Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented. The justices’ limited ruling turned on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled against baker Jack Phillips.

—–

CNN reports, we’re working on getting more local responses to today’s important but narrow decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of a Lakewood cake baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple:

The court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed hostility toward the baker based on his religious beliefs. The ruling is a win for baker Jack Phillips, who cited his beliefs as a Christian, but leaves unsettled broader constitutional questions on religious liberty.

“Today’s decision is remarkably narrow, and leaves for another day virtually all of the major constitutional questions that this case presented,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. “It’s hard to see the decision setting a precedent.”

The ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, held that members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed animus toward Phillips specifically when they suggested his claims of religious freedom was made to justify discrimination.

It’s a decision sure to energize both sides of the debate, since it appears to focus very specifically on the circumstances of this one case rather than addressing the broader issue of whether religious freedom entails a right to refuse service to persons who offend a business owner’s beliefs. Conservatives are certain to overreach in their interpretation, but the lopsided ruling does oblige LGBT rights advocates to fully understand their reasoning in order to properly respond. Colorado’s Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a separate concurring opinion with Samuel Alito, which may well stake out ideological ground the court’s majority does not.

There will be much to update as reactions come in, so watch this space.

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Haters Provoke Outpouring of Love in Broomfield

A happy ending to the unsavory story we noted a couple of days ago, as Jennifer Rios of the Boulder Daily Camera reports:

When Broomfield residents learned that Broomfield High School was a possible target of hate speech and protest, more than 600 counter-protesters showed up.

A “Community Hug” was created in response to a rumored visit from Westboro Baptist Church members, who said they would be in Broomfield at 2:30 p.m. They never arrived — a common tactic of the small family band based in Topeka, Kansas, that advocates hate against public schools, LGBTQ individuals, and the U.S. military.

Broomfield police showed up at 11 a.m.; community members began arriving at 12:30 p.m., but those who sparked the event never showed up.

Local residents linked arms to surround the campus of Broomfield High School, creating a physical barrier against a protest that failed to materialize. It’s quite possible that the pre-event lampooning of the anti-everything protesters from Westboro Baptist Church in the media, in which they learned the protest had been scheduled for the wrong day, caused them to abort. Or maybe they just didn’t have the gas money to drive to Boulder from Topeka.

Either way, in the end there was absolutely nothing to see in Broomfield–except hundreds of local residents who turned out just to make everybody knows this miserable traveling band of inbred misanthropes in no way represents the people who live here.

And if that’s the the effect they have, we invite Westboro Baptist to threaten and then not show up anytime.

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Cynthia Coffman Just Keeps Digging and Digging

Cynthia! Are you down there, Cynthia?

We’ve been tough on Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in this space, but it would be impossible to ignore the fantastical absurdity that is her campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Ever since her belated announcement for Governor in November, Coffman has been unable to figure out if she is here or there or anywhere else.

Ernest Luning reports on Coffman’s latest political gymnastics for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Coffman…told a GOP group last week she would sign a bill removing protection based on sexual orientation from Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

Her remarks drew criticism from the state’s leading LGBTQ-advocacy organization, but Coffman later said she meant she would repeal the protection only if it turned out it wasn’t needed anymore. [Pols emphasis]

Coffman, who has staked out a position as a defender of LGBTQ rights, made the remarks at a March 21 meeting of the Greeley Republican Politics for Breakfast group at the end of a discussion about her controversial role defending the state’s nondiscrimination law in a U.S. Supreme Court Court case about a Lakewood baker who cited religious reasons when he refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Well, except that she probably did.

Coffman is seeking a place on the June Primary ballot via the caucus/assembly process, which concludes on April 14, and she’s been taking a strange approach in courting diehard Republicans across the state. Coffman’s pitch to GOP voters is that she is the most moderate Republican in the race, and therefore the candidate with the best chance of winning a General Election in November. But it seems like every time she tries to make this case, she ends up walking it back in a very public manner.

Put aside, for a moment, the question of whether or not it makes sense to court right-wing Republicans with a moderate message; Coffman’s bigger problem has been her persistant inability to be consistent in her positions. Coffman’s supposed support of LGBTQ rights is one of her main talking points for her “moderate” image — but when she gets into a room with conservative Republicans, she compulsively un-moderates herself. As Luning explains further:

Last summer, Coffman praised Colorado’s anti-bias laws as among the strongest in the country when she addressed a rally celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered equality on the steps of the state Capitol. She pointed out that her office had recently helped pass bipartisan legislation adding sexual orientation and transgender status to the state’s existing law covering bias-motivated crimes.

“Whatever happens on the national front, and I know there is great fear about what lies ahead because it is unknown to us, let me tell you what we do know about Colorado,” Coffman, the only Republican on stage, told the rally. “This state, your legislators, your state officials — we will all stand up for gay rights, for human rights in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]

Cynthia Coffman will stand up for LGBTQ rights! Unless she won’t.

We’d guess that Coffman isn’t likely to win over many conservative Republicans with this dance, so why risk losing potential supporters from the LGBTQ community?

After reviewing a recording of Coffman’s remarks before the Republican group, a spokesman for One Colorado, the state’s leading LGBTQ-advocacy organization, said her statement “feels like a betrayal” from someone the group has long considered an ally.

Of course, this isn’t the only issue that has Coffman flopping about. Coffman thinks Colorado voters are anxious to vote for a female candidate at the top of the ticket (which they did in 2016 with Hillary Clinton), yet she is an unabashed supporter of President Trump.

Coffman doesn’t want to talk about Planned Parenthood, but she can’t very well sidestep the issue because of her involvement in important court cases about funding the organization. In fact, Coffman has waffled so much in the past few months on the issue of abortion that it is nearly impossible to ascertain if she is really “pro-choice” or “pro-life” (as far as we can tell, she’s definitely sorta “pro-life” at the moment).

If Coffman’s political strategy is intentional obfuscation, then she’s doing a hell of a job staying on “message.” But if this is NOT the plan, and we’re guessing it isn’t, then it’s almost sad to see Coffman winding down her political career by pulling up whatever policy stakes she once planted.

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Con Man Chaps Interviews CD6 candidate Roger Edwards

Roger Edwards, Colorado Polster and candidate for Congressional District 6, was recently interviewed on Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt’s Pray in Jesus Name online “news” program.

Screenshot, Pray in Jesus Name program 12/21/17

Edwards should be more careful about the people he associates with; Chaps is a known nutcase, homophobe, and a con man who has made millions by exploiting the hopes and fears of his gullible subscribers.

Klingenschmitt’s nonprofit, “Persuade the World Ministries” declared income of $1,362,548 in 2016, while making no charitable grants whatsoever. (2016 990 form, from Propublica Nonprofit Explorer) In 2016, Klingenschmitt was still employed as the Representative for HD15, and attempted to run for Senate District 16.  And he wasn’t too fussy about keeping his political and religious finances separate.

Klingenschmitt: You, Too, Can Discern Demons

How did Klingenschmitt make 1.3 million dollars?  By selling such gems as his $99 “Discern the Spirits” program.

Screenshot – Youtube video of PJIN program

That’s right, for only $99, Chaps will teach you how to see demons and angels. This would be just another laughable claim by a religious fanatic –  if not for the political applications of Chaps “discernment”. He famously tried to exorcise a demon from President Obama, and claimed that gay and transgender people were inhabited by demons.

Also possessed by demons, according to Chaps: Zales ad execs, and anyone who criticizes him.

On the same 40 minute PJIN progam, at 19:11, Chaps promotes his petition to protect the altars of military chapels from the “desecration” of being used for “homosexual wedding ceremonies”. Because, of course, this is a legit national security concern.

Chaps Facebook page is a compendium of conspiracy theories (How Planned Parenthood Killed Toys R Us!!), Trumpism, and fundraising appeals for his various campaigns against gays and abortion, Mexican and Muslim immigrants, etc.  This is how he has become a millionaire. People donate to his “ministry”. A lot.

Edwards: Gays OK to keep their jobs

Chaps’ interview with candidate Roger Edwards starts with the standard biographical questions. Then the two proceed to check the right boxes: Anti-abortion / Pro Personhood? Check. Pro Concealed Carry? Check. Trump voter? Check.

When Chaps probes to find out what policies Edwards is for, the best Edwards can say is that he is “Not Mike Coffman”. There are no specific policies on Edwards’ campaign website, either. Sample: We must recognize that evil exists in the world. 

To Edwards’ credit, at 25:11,  Edwards  declines to denounce the ENDA (Employment Non Discrimination Act), which protects gay people from employment discrimination. Edwards refuses Chaps’ request to get on the homophobic bandwagon against ENDA, and says that gay people should be able to keep their jobs. Edwards says:

I believe in religious freedom, but I also believe that, if you’re a gay person,. . .that you should have equal opportunity to have a job and work a career that you want to work in.

I’m sorry that we live in a world in which we should be grateful that an aspiring politician declines to discriminate against a tenth of the population. Edwards does say that he thinks that Jack Phillips, the baker who wouldn’t make the gay cake, probably did the right thing for “artistic freedom”. So he checked that box for Chaps.

Roger Edwards is trying to establish himself as a legitimate, electable candidate in CD6, a diverse district. The Adams County Republicans endorsed his candidacy over Coffman’s. It does not serve Edwards well to associate with opportunistic right wing hucksters like Dr. Chaps.

In the unlikely event that Edwards defeats Coffman in the primary, Dr. Chaps’ blessing of Edwards will serve the likely CD6 Democratic candidate, Jason Crow, very well, indeed.

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Ultra-conservative CPAC conference has Colorado connections

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference kicked off today in Maryland. It features a lengthy list of speakers and panels, including NRA President Wayne LaPierre, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Vice President Mike Pence. You can watch the livestream here. Coloradans, though, may be more interested in tomorrow’s program, which not only features former Congressman Bob Beauprez interviewing two Trump cabinet members, but also two live events taking place locally at Lakewood’s Colorado Christian University. Tickets for the Friday events at CCU are available here. Here’s a rundown of all the Colorado-related events:

Friday, February 23, 6:35 am MT

A Conversation with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Secretary Ryan Zinke, interviewed by former U. S. Rep. Bob Beauprez

Former CD7 Representative, twice-failed GOP gubernatorial candidate, conservative blogger and occasional right-wing radio host Bob Beauprez will interview two powerful members of President Trump’s cabinet: Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. No specific topics are listed, but issues such as fracking, the oil & gas industry and public land management are safe bets. If a discussion of federal vs. state responsibility for public land does occur, it’s always possible that Beauprez will reiterate his support for the failed “Northern Colorado” secession movement launched by conservative activists in 2013. It’s also possible that Beauprez will raise his fears of “creeping Sharia” with Secretary Perry, who has been accused by fellow CPAC speaker* Pam Geller of being overly friendly with Texas Muslims.

Friday, February 23, 11:50 am MT

Michelle Malkin: “A Time for Action,” Live from the Colorado CPAC Stage

 It’s unclear what specific action Michelle Malkin will advocate for during her ten-minute speech, but a review of her past positions and statements reveals some possibilities. She may suggest placing Muslim-Americans in internment camps, which she justified in her 2004 book, “In Defense of Internment: The Case for “Racial Profiling” in World War II and the War on Terror.”  She may call for Americans to mock the suicides of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, as she did in 2006, shocking her interviewer, Bill O’Reilly.  Perhaps she’ll pose for selfies with those who believe President Obama was a Nazi, as she did in this picture, taken at the Colorado state capitol in 2009.    

(more…)

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GOP Screws With Civil Rights Commission Any Way They Can

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Marianne Goodland reports for the Colorado Springs Gazette on multiple attempts yesterday by House Republicans to undermine the power of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission–action on the heels of a highly controversial vote by notoriously anti-LGBT Republicans on the Joint Budget Committee against funding for the commission:

The House Judiciary Committee Tuesday voted 10-1 to draft a bill to extend the Colorado Division of Civil Rights and the civil rights commission for nine more years. House Republicans offered six amendments that attempted to make sweeping changes to the commission, without success…

Republicans attempted to change how the commission is appointed and its authority. One amendment, offered by House Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist of Centennial, would make the commission’s sole purpose to investigate and research discrimination, and strip it of its ability to hold hearings or review appeals.

The hearing function would stay in the statute but discrimination cases would go to an administrative law judge and hence wouldn’t take away the rights of a complainant to have his/her case heard, Wist said. But without its hearing authority, one Democrat said the change would make the commission little more than an academic body.

Goodland reports on other proposed alterations of the Civil Rights Commission, including reducing the sunset review period and allowing legislative leaders to appoint members to the commission in addition to the governor. The individual proposals offered by Republicans to “reform” the Civil Rights Commission aren’t really what matter, though.

It’s the fact that Republicans believe the Commission needs “reform” at all.

Readers will remember that the current partisan battle over the Civil Rights Commission has two principal origins: first in a U.S. Supreme Court case involving a Lakewood cake baker accused of discrimination against a same-sex couple, and second in an embarrassing episode for Senate Republicans last year in which they refused to reappoint an LGBT member of the commission. After Senate Republicans’ stated rationale for denying Heidi Hess another term was shown to be preposterously in error, the only thing left to justify their action was Hess’ support for anti-discrimination legislation passed years ago.

And, of course, the fact that Heidi Hess is a member of Colorado’s LGBT community.

Politically, this sustained retaliation against the Civil Rights Commission by Republicans in the Colorado legislature seems destined to backfire. The benefit of rallying religious-right voters doesn’t come near to compensating for the swing-voter support Republicans stand to lose by continuing this grandstand. It’s not the first time local Republicans have seized on anti-LGBT wedge politics in a major election year: the then-one seat House GOP majority’s extraordinary shutdown of the House to kill a civil unions bill that would have otherwise passed with bipartisan support in 2012 being a strikingly similar example.

If the 2012 elections are any guide to how this ends, a very serious mistake is being made.

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Civil Rights Commission: The 800-Pound Gorilla in the Room

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Following a large rally yesterday at the Colorado State Capitol in defense of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, whose funding reauthorization was stalled by a deadlocked party-line vote of the legislature’s powerful Joint Budget Committee, Republicans found themselves once again on the defensive–and they complained bitterly about the overwhelmingly negative attention the vote has caused for the Senate GOP majority in particular. As the Denver Post’s John Frank reports:

Republicans say that their intention was never to defund the commission indefinitely or even put its existence into question, and that they just wanted to have a part in the process and to voice their concerns about the panel.

“It seemed very well orchestrated that they were able to come out and scream about the defunding of the department when that in fact is wholly untrue,” said Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Cañon City Republican. “This happens all the time across the street (from the Capitol where the JBC meets) where more questions want to be asked about a particular department before the funding is passed.”

“The end result was never in doubt,” Grantham added, saying what Democrats on the JBC did amounts to a breach of protocol. “… We will have a civil rights commission and we will also have a say in what it looks like.” [Pols emphasis]

FOX 31’s Joe St. George:

“We are committed to the reauthorization of the Civil Rights Commission,” Republican State Sen. Bob Gardner said.

“I believe the make up of the commission is not balanced right now.”

9NEWS’ Anna Staver:

“It wasn’t a no,” [Sen. Kevin] Lundberg said. “It was a no, not now.”

He asked to postpone the vote until after the review process finished, but Democrats on the committee called for a vote.

“I am not prepared to vote for funding until I understand what this commission will actually be all about in the coming years,” Lundberg said during the budget meeting. [Pols emphasis]

One of the most inviolate customs observed between lawmakers in the Colorado General Assembly–as we expect it is elsewhere–is a tradition that legislative colleagues do not “impugn the motives” of fellow lawmakers in the course of debate. The goal is to suppress acrimony over hot-button issues by creating a degree of separation between the subject being argued and the people doing the arguing. Of course sometimes the motive is plainly obvious, and that can lead to a stilted debate in which one side is basically hiding behind courtesy to dodge criticism for a distasteful underlying reality that everybody knows.

In the case of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the vote by JBC Republicans to block its funding, the motive everyone is too polite to acknowledge is this: two of the most homophobic senators in the Republican-controlled Colorado Senate serve on the JBC. Sen. Kevin Lundberg praised Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis for “abiding by the laws of God” when she went to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Sen. Kent Lambert said that Colorado’s civil unions law is a “mind-control experiment” intended to force Coloradans “to believe in homosexual marriage.”

How is it that this standoff has been developing for almost a week and not one single mainstream news story has pointed this out? We understand that turnover at local media outlets is quite high and some of these events occurred literally before yesterday, but at some level that’s just no excuse. In our view, you can’t tell the story of three Republicans blocking funding for the Civil Rights Commission without explaining the openly homophobic views of two out of three of them.

The public needs the unsanitized truth about what the Republicans who did this actually believe. There’s no guesswork about what they believe. It’s all on the record. Voters can Google it. And above all, reporters are not bound by the niceties of legislative decorum.

So please. Tell the whole story.

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URGENT: Protect civil rights in Colorado (and other ways to fight back for the week of February 12)

Last week, Colorado Republicans in the state senate launched an attack on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Led by some of the most notoriously anti-equality members of the Colorado legislature, Three Republicans on the powerful Joint Budget Committee voted in a bloc to halt the commission’s funding with no explanation, and certainly no precedent.

It’s not happening in a vacuum. Right now the Colorado Civil Rights Division is involved in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case over discrimination by a baker in Lakewood, Colorado against a same-sex couple. Two of the three Republicans on the committee that voted against funding the Civil Rights Division are Senators Kevin Lundberg and Kent Lambert. Sen. Lundberg actually thanked Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis for “abiding by the laws of God” after Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. [1] Sen. Lambert claimed civil unions are a “mind-control experiment” to force Coloradans “to believe in homosexual marriage.” [2]

This is unfortunately not new here. Colorado has worked for decades to shake off the reputation as a “hate state” after the passage of the unconstitutional Amendment 2 anti-LGBT ballot measure in 1992. But as you can see, the work is not over, and the forces of bigotry and division aren’t done trying to take us backwards.

Action item #1 this week: join us TOMORROW at the Colorado Capitol to an emergency rally to save the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Then stick around to testify in favor of protecting everyone from discrimination in our great state.

What: Rally to Save the Colorado Civil Rights Division
Where: Colorado State Capitol, 200 E Colfax Ave, Denver
When: Tuesday, February 13 at 12:30PM

Click here to RSVP.

Thanks for taking action on such short notice. Here are many more great ways to fight back for the week of February 12:


The Question of Palestine in the Age of Post-Arab Nationalism

Bassem Hassan has a Ph.D. in International Studies from the University of Denver. He teaches International Relations and Middle East Politics at the University of Colorado Denver. Dr. Hassan spent much of December and January in Egypt, so we can expect that his talk will be informed by some very recent observations.

Where: Friends of Sabeel – Colorado, Denver
When: Monday, February 12 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


SB 40 Harm Reduction Bill Package

We have a senate committee assignment for February 14th in room SCR 357! We are assigned to the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs. If you can’t make it on February 5th or you’re just interested in this event, we need you calling and emailing TODAY in support of SB 40 to get on their radar. Harm Reductionists, you know what to do.

Where: Colorado State Capitol 200 E Colfax Ave, Denver
When: Wednesday, February 14 at 1:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Atlantis Community: Screening Party of The Gang of 19: ADA Movement

You’re invited to a screening party! Rocky Mountain PBS produced a documentary about the beginnings of Atlantis Community and ADAPT. The documentary shows how 19 people with disabilities made history and paved the path for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Join us as we watch this incredible piece of the Colorado Experience. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the film starts at 7:00 p.m. Light refreshments will be available.

Where: Atlantis Community, Inc., 201 S Cherokee St, Denver
When: Thursday, February 15 at 6:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


RTD Open House – District O w/ Director Sisk

RTD is hosting a series of open houses throughout the service area in January and February to discuss transportation projects and to gather feedback from our riders.

Where: Louisville Public Library, 951 Spruce St, Louisville
When: Thursday, February 15 at 6:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Strengthening Democracy Colorado Monthly Meeting

Join us for a general meeting with updates on our activity with our local coalition partners and upcoming ranked choice voting initiative.

Where: Hooked on Colfax, 3213 E Colfax Ave, Denver
When: Thursday, February 15 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Rep. Mike Weissman: Town Hall on Criminal Justice Reform

Colorado spends more than $1 billion annually on our correctional system yet we are in the bottom 10 states in K-12 education investment and even lower in higher education investment. Join our town hall to hear about alternative public safety strategies that can be more effective and less expensive.

Where: Community College of Aurora, 16000 E Centretech Pkwy, Aurora
When: Thursday, February 15 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP. 


Spring 2018 Southern Colorado GSA Leadership Summit

The One Colorado GSA Network will be hosting the Southern Colorado GSA Leadership Summit on February 17th! At the 2018 Southern Colorado GSA Leadership Summit, we will share best practices for creating and supporting effective GSA programs and empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students to be leaders in their community. Students (middle school, high school, and college-aged), educators, and parents who are passionate about creating safe, inclusive learning environments are all welcome and encouraged to attend. This is a FREE event and this year’s theme is ‘It Starts With Us’ to remind us that we all have the power to make change in our community.

Where: UCCS, 1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy, Colorado Springs
When: Saturday, February 17 at 8:30am

Click here to RSVP.


Sen. Rachel Zenzinger: State Legislative Town Hall Meeting

The topic will be mental health and will include speakers from the Jefferson Center for Mental Health, the Colorado Department of Human Services, and others. They will discuss the strengthening of Colorado’s statewide response to mental and behavioral health, including the crisis system.

Where: Standley Lake Public Library, 8485 Kipling Street, Arvada
When: Saturday, February 17 at 10:30am

Click here to RSVP.


Town Hall Meeting: How We Protect Our Public Lands

Please join Representatives Brittany Pettersen and Chris Kennedy and Senators Andy Kerr and Cheri Jahn for our regular third Saturday town hall meeting. This month we’ll be discussing how we protect our public lands. We will be joined by Josh Kuhn (Conservation Colorado), Jordan Vana (Colorado Open Lands), and John Litz (PlanJeffco/Jeffco Open Space). Join us!

Where: West Metro Fire Rescue, 433 S Allison Pkwy, Lakewood
When: Saturday, February 17 at 10:00am

Click here to RSVP.


Indivisible Highlands Ranch: White Allyship-An afternoon with Eleanor Hubbard of CU Boulder

Eleanor presented to us last spring/summer on white as a racial category. This year we will hear more on being white allies. Eleanor Hubbard, Ph.D. is retired faculty from CU Boulder. Her expertise is race, class, gender and sexual orientation.

Where: Douglas County Libraries (Highlands Ranch, CO), 9292 S Ridgeline Blvd, Highlands Ranch
When: Saturday, February 17 at 2:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Boulder County Fracking Update

Within the next 12 weeks, two oil companies are to receive drilling permits from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to drill 196 fracking wells across wide expanses of Boulder’s Open Space. There is a legal path to win on this – but it requires Community Action. Please come to a free presentation by the founders of Hold Our Ground and members of the Sierra Club O&G Team to learn about this threat and what we can do to stop this travesty.

Where: Boulder Creek Room, Boulder Public Library
When: Sunday, February 18 at 4:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Discussion With Dr. Bob Barney on the Olympics in Colorado

Join us for a discussion with Dr. Robert Knight Barney, PhD, at The Source located in the RiNo (River North) district of Denver. Pizza will be provided! Dr. Barney has published some 295 pieces on sport history, more than 150 of them in the field of Olympic history. He served as President of the North American Society for Sport History (1990-1992), as Executive Council Member of the International Society of Olympic History (1998-2008), and Director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario, an institution at which he continues to be active.

Where: 3350 Brighton Blvd, Denver
When: Sunday, February 18 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Again, news happens fast–so please keep your inbox open for updates and breaking news this week. Thanks again for everything you’ve done and will continue to do to fight back in defense of our shared values. See you next week!

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Senate GOP Reels After Civil Rights Commission Miscalculation

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Marianne Goodland of the former Colorado Statesman reports on the explosive controversy resulting from last week’s vote by Republicans on the powerful Joint Budget Committee against funding for the Colorado Civil Rights Commission–the same commission party to a major case before the U.S. Supreme Court alleging discrimination by a Lakewood cake-baker against a same-sex couple:

The deadlocked vote last week over funding the Colorado Civil Rights Commission continues to draw reaction, as well as a Tuesday rally to defend the agency. Both the Division of Civil Rights and the Civil Rights Commission are up for a sunset review hearing on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., the first step in re-authorizing the agency.

In a story first reported Thursday by Colorado Politics, the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) failed to pass a 2018-19 budget for the commission last week with a 3-3 tie vote, split along party lines. For now, that vote means the agency will not be funded as of July 1, 2018.

Reaction to the decision has been swift and angry. Sunday, the Colorado Working Families Party, which backs progressive candidates, issued a statement calling on the Republican members of the JBC to end their efforts to undermine the state civil rights agency.

Goodland directs us to a statement from the Good Business Colorado coalition denouncing last week’s vote, and a rally coming up tomorrow on the Capitol steps:

“The vote to defund the Civil Rights Commission may not seem on its surface to be a business issue — but it truly is because it ensures we have the strong foundation on which we are building the Colorado economy.

“Creating a baseline of respect and dignity for all people is a key component to building Colorado’s economy, one of the strongest in the country. If people don’t feel secure, they can’t work, they can’t spend money, and they can’t support our businesses. The Civil Rights Commission gives our employees, customers, and community the confidence that they can be treated fairly and equally in our state.

“Good Business Colorado urges legislators to quickly repair any harm done to the state’s business reputation by reversing this action to undermine the protection of civil rights.”

The pushback against Senate Republicans over this vote against funding for the civil rights commission appears to have significantly exceeded expectations. Today the Senate GOP released this statement from Senate President Kevin Grantham:

The problem is that nobody is buying this feeble excuse. Two out of three Republican members of the Joint Budget Committee, Sens. Kevin Lundberg and Kent Lambert, are among the most ardently anti-LGBT members of the Colorado General Assembly. Lundberg praised Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis for “abiding by the laws of God” when she went to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Lambert says Colorado’s civil unions law is a “mind-control experiment” to force Coloradans “to believe in homosexual marriage.”

For these and a host of other reasons that everyone knows, the attempt by Senate Republicans to defend this vote against funding for the civil rights commission has fallen entirely flat. It was Kevin Grantham who appointed two of the most homophobic senators in his majority to the JBC. Everybody knows exactly what is going on here and why. If Republicans really didn’t think this puerile attack on the civil rights commission while the commission argues the nation’s biggest LGBT discrimination case before the nation’s highest court wasn’t going to blow up in their faces, they’re more clueless than even we could have imagined.

Because politically, this is just madness. Colorado Republicans who have desperately been trying to turn over a new leaf with tolerant Colorado voters on social issues like LGBT rights have been set back years by this vote. Every day Grantham and company tries to defend their actions only compounds the disaster. So many elections in recent years have punished Colorado Republicans for obsessing with social wedge issues over practical matters, and they just voluntarily saddled themselves with the same baggage once again.

We are honestly surprised this lesson hasn’t been learned. How many more ass-kickings at the polls will it take?

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Kevin Lundberg: Making Colorado Hate Again

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

As the Colorado Independent’s John Herrick reports, yesterday Republicans on the Colorado General Assembly’s powerful Joint Budget Committee took a swipe at the Colorado Civil Rights Commission–the state agency charged with defending Coloradans of all stripes from discrimination in housing, public accommodation, and the workplace:

Republican state lawmakers are effectively shutting down a state agency that is at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case involving the rights of a gay couple who were refused service by a Christian baker.

The Joint Budget Committee held up funding for Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission following a split, party-line vote this afternoon. The decision would cut off state funding for the regulatory agency that enforces anti-discrimination laws on July 1. This drew protests from Democrats and the LGBTQ community.

The agency is fighting a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that pits religious liberties against anti-discrimination protections. It involves the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because he said it conflicted with his First Amendment right of artistic, religious and free speech expression…

Because the Civil Rights Commission is up for “sunset review” reauthorization of its funding this year, notoriously anti-LGBT Sen. Kevin Lundberg of the JBC is stalling the budget appropriation citing the possibility that the division will be allowed to “sunset.”

Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, who voted against the budget request, wants to wait for the review to play out. The Civil Rights Division, which includes the commission, is requesting $2.1 million for next year.

“My argument against approving their funding today is we need to wait and see what the legislature does with the renewal of the law authorizing the commission,” Lundberg said on Facebook on Thursday.

Because of the commission’s role in the discrimination case currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court of Lakewood cake-baker Jack Phillips, this action by Republican members of the JBC could quickly become a national flashpoint in the post-Obergefell debate over LGBT rights in America. The religious right since that decision has been on a quest to carve out an exemption in anti-discrimination laws for “religious objections.” That’s why Sen. Lundberg drew scorn for his praise of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis after she was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

And that’s what is critical to understand. This is no accident. Colorado Senate Republicans appointed Kim Davis-loving Kevin Lundberg to the Joint Budget Committee where everyone knew he would have this power to put the Civil Rights Commission in jeopardy. It will be the choice of the entire Senate majority to block reauthorization of the Civil Rights Commission in the middle of a U.S. Supreme Court case if they do so, but yesterday’s vote on the JBC makes that all the more likely.

Politically, Republicans are audaciously playing with fire here. The situation is eerily similar to the fight in 2012 in the state legislature over civil unions legislation. Republicans pulled out all the stops to oppose the civil unions bill that year, leading to a widely-publicized spectacle at the session’s end in which Republicans leaders shut down the House to prevent a vote.

And then they lost their asses that November.

With a wave election headed Republicans’ way this year that could dwarf 2012, sweeping the Colorado Senate GOP’s single-seat majority from power and growing Democratic control of the Colorado House even more than the status quo, this is either a Hail Mary to invigorate the religious right or the actions of a party that simply doesn’t care about winning anymore. Or maybe both.

Either way, this is a story that needs a lot of attention–and right now.

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Somebody please run against Jerry Sonnenberg

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jerry Sonnenberg is winding up his first term in the Colorado Senate. He is up for re-election in 2018, and no one has stepped up to run against him.  Sonnenberg ran unopposed for his first Senate term, and for all four of his previous House terms, until he was termed out in 2014.  No wonder he doesn’t return liberal constituent’s phone calls – he feels pretty safe ignoring their concerns. What are they going to do, run a Democrat against him?

Sonnenberg has referred to a fellow female Senator as”eye candy” and tweeted that he’d like to lube his assault rifle with “Obama tears”. He legislated against eminent domain for water pipelines, and for eminent domain for oil and gas companies. He sponsored legislation to prohibit protesting at oil  and gas sites, and he is a climate science denier.

In an excellent piece by Win the Fourth (WTF),  the author makes the case for fielding a Democrat to run against Sonnenberg.

(more…)

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Roy Moore: Everywhere Haters Want To Be

Another eye-opening story from the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews today, this time on the pending Supreme Court case of a Lakewood cake baker trying to get out from his obligations under Colorado civil rights law to serve the public equally–an Alabama organization founded by none other than Roy Moore, the controversial U.S. Senate candidate beset by allegations of sexual molestation of underage girls as a district attorney, is weighing in on the side of…um, morality:

An activist group founded by Alabama Republican Roy Moore is one of several dozen organizations that have submitted briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court ahead of next week’s arguments in the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Moore’s group, called the Foundation for Moral Law, took the side of Lakewood baker Jack Phillips and contended that he shouldn’t be compelled to create a wedding cake for a gay couple because doing so would conflict with his Christian beliefs about marriage.

“In this case, the state of Colorado has sent a ‘message of exclusion’ to Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop: He may not follow his religious beliefs concerning marriage, and, if he does, he will face official censorship and fines that will force him out of business,” wrote John Eidsmoe in a Sept. 6 filing for the Foundation for Moral Law.

According to Matthews, Roy’s wife Kayla Moore is the current president of this organization while Moore himself is listed as “president emeritus.” So it’s definitely what you’d call a family affair–so much so that it was the focus on a Washington Post investigation in October revealing that Moore had personally been paid over $1 million by the foundation in addition to employing his wife, two children, and Moore’s bodyguard.

As conservatives local and across the nation champion Jack Phillips’ “right” to discriminate against LGBT customers, here’s a useful reminder of who is on the team.

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Dr Chaps celebrates Roy Moore Week – and blames leftists for church shooting

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gordon Klingenschmitt spent a week in Alabama promoting his old friend, Judge Roy Moore.

Screenshot of Klingenschmitt’s interview with Moore on Pray in Jesus’ Name program 10/5/17.

Former HD15 Representative Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, working his $1.3 million* a year hustle, alt-right “news program”, Pray in Jesus’ Name News, ran a 5 part series promoting his old friend and mentor, Alabama Senate candidate and accused pedophile Judge Roy Moore. Chaps campaigned for 5 days  with Roy Moore in Alabama last October.

For those with strong stomachs, here is the entire series:

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Attorney: Arguments to SCOTUS in baker case will allege bias of CO Civil Rights Commission

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Nicole Martin, the Alliance for Defending Freedom attorney who has represented Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, appeared Denver’s KNUS radio Thursday, September 7, to update listeners on preparations for the highly anticipated hearing of arguments in Phillips’ case by the United States Supreme Court in the coming months.

Speaking with show hosts Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden, Martin highlighted developments surrounding the case since the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and subsequent court appeals ruled against Phillips, who refused services in 2012 to a gay couple requesting a wedding cake for their matrimony celebration.

Martin explained how these developments have steered her legal team’s strategy and tactics in preparing to argue Phillips’ defense to the Supreme Court.

One evolution in the ADF case is to claim that Phillips faced a biased Civil Rights Commission, which demonstrated a prejudice against people of faith. In her radio appearance, Martin points to a statement made by Commissioner Diann Rice:

“So, we pointed out to the court — […] when we were trying to get the stay of that Colorado Civil Rights Commission order while the appeal and the Colorado Court of Appeals was pending, she revealed herself to be openly hostile and biased toward people of faith when she compared Mr. Phillips – whose father was a World War II vet and helped liberate one of the first concentration camps – when she compared Mr. Phillips and his assertion of his First Amendment rights to slaveholders and Nazis. So, we focused on that.”

Rice’s actual statement, however, appears to be a broad, historical observation, framing the root of the debate.

At issue is whether equal protections for the couple, guaranteed under public accommodation laws, supersede Phillips’ claim to his First Amendment rights, which his legal team has framed in terms of religious liberty and artistic expression. Phillips’ devout Christian beliefs were cited in his refusal to sell gay wedding cakes.

Right wing online news outlets have widely cited Rice’s comments as proof of bias against people of faith in general, and against Phillips in particular.

In July 2014, while announcing the commission’s decision to stay the order against Phillips, Rice made the following statement:

“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting,” Rice said during consideration of Phillips’ case. “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”

Another development which Martin believes will bolster Phillips’ case came from the activism of a Christian radio host and provocateur from Castle Rock named Bill Jack, who, in response to the original ruling against Masterpiece Cakeshop, solicited cakes with anti-gay messages and imagery from bakeries.  Jack filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Commission when those bakeries refused his request.

Martin explained how Bill Jack’s case, in which the commission ruled against his complaint, will be used in arguments to the Court:

“So we did beef up the brief extensively, based on that blatant double standard that it depends on […] who the message speaker is.”

Interestingly, in an interview from April 2015, Bill Jack made his own Nazi comparison from the other side of the debate, saying he believed the Civil Rights Commission were “acting like the Nazis. They are acting like those who want to re-educate the public,” referring to the commission’s order that Masterpiece Cakeshop rewrite company policy to comply with lawful, non-discriminatory practices.

Martin’s appearance on KNUS coincided with the filing of amicus curiae briefs – or, “friend of the court” briefs — in the Supreme Court case.

When Hayden inquired who had authored amicus briefs in support of Phillips’ case, Martin replied that she didn’t know specifically, but the list of supporters was long.  The only amicus author she mentioned was The Conference of Catholic Bishops.

After Martin’s interview aired, it was revealed that the United States Department of Justice, led by Trump-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had filed a brief in support of Phillips’ defense.

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