Friday, May 5, 2017

Colorado State Senate votes against re-appointment of lesbian Civil Rights Commission chair

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 3:49 PM

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Heidi Hess, an open lesbian and the Western Slope organizer for LGBTQ-rights organization One Colorado, has been voted out of her seat on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

In an 18-17 party-line vote, Republican members of the state Senate decided not to confirm her re-appointment by Gov. John Hickenlooper, which, according to The Denver Post, was originally recommended for approval by the Senate State Affairs Committee. For four years, Hess has served on the Civil Rights Commission, and currently acts as its chair.

Republicans defended their vote, claiming she advocates for suing businesses.

“It is extremely rare for a governor’s appointment to not be confirmed,” said One Colorado’s executive director Daniel Ramos in a statement. “In fact, when she was first confirmed in 2013, current senators Baumgardner, Crowder, Grantham, Hill, Lambert, Lundberg, and Marble all voted for her.”

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission investigates complaints regarding discrimination in employment and education, a bitter irony pointed out by One Colorado. Ramos suggests that discrimination regarding Hess’ sexuality led to this vote, and says: “This vote reaffirms why the Colorado Civil Rights Commission exists in the first place.”

All other commissioners on the seven-member team hail from Colorado Springs, Denver or Pueblo. Hess, from Clifton, gave voice to an underrepresented region of the state, which raises questions as to where the next commissioner may call home.

At this time, it is unclear who will become the new chair of the commission and who will be appointed to take Hess’ place.

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