Thursday, May 4, 2017

Hate crime legislation extended to protect LGBTQ people and people with disabilities

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 1:55 PM

click to enlarge Gov. Hickenlooper signs HB-1188 into law.
  • Gov. Hickenlooper signs HB-1188 into law.

Wednesday was a big day for LGBTQ Coloradans and Coloradans with disabilities. With bi-partisan support, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed HB-1188 into law. The bill, which easily passed out of the house (48-15) and senate (23-12), will add LGBTQ people and people with disabilities to the state’s existing hate-crime laws.

Now, the law “prohibits the intimidation or harassment of another person because of that person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.” (Of note: the bill does not mention gender identity, which raises questions about its extension to transgender and gender nonconforming citizens).

In addition, HB-1188 raises crimes against these categories of people from a class three to a class one misdemeanor. That means higher fines and a higher maximum jail sentence for offenders.

The bill’s sponsors, Sen. Dominick Moreno (D), Rep. Mike Foote (D) and Sen. Don Coram (R), were able to bolster support from both parties, a feat that often proves difficult in legislation related to protections for LGBTQ people.

According to an article by coloradopolitics.com, Daniel Ramos of One Colorado, the state’s leading LGBTQ-rights organization, said, “The widespread, bipartisan support for House Bill 1188 proves that protecting Colorado’s most vulnerable populations is not a partisan issue. This was a common-sense measure...”

Considering the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies three anti-LGBTQ hate groups in Colorado, two of which (The Pray in Jesus Name Project and the Family Research Institute) hold headquarters in Colorado Springs, legislation like this continues to be relevant and necessary to protect members of our own community.

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