Colorado moves forward, nation rolls back on LGBTQ rights 

click to enlarge Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signs landmark LGBTQ legislation into law. - COURTESY ONE COLORADO
  • Courtesy One Colorado
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signs landmark LGBTQ legislation into law.

This morning, May 31, President Donald Trump tweeted a two-parter claiming support for the LGBTQ community in advance of Pride Month, which begins in June.

This message comes in the midst of a federal attack on LGBTQ rights from all sides — from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s proposed rule to exclude transgender people from sex-specific homeless shelters to the recent Department of Health and Human Services rule proposal that would roll back Obama-era mandates that transgender people be granted equal access to medical treatment and insurance coverage.

This is just a snapshot of the attacks on LGBTQ — specifically transgender — American citizens that we have faced from the federal level in the last two and a half years (including a ban on transgender service members in the military). It is hard to believe there’s any hope at all out there for our community, but thankfully we can see sparks of it in our own state.

Because shortly before President Trump tweeted his hollow promises to the LGBTQ people his administration has victimized, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who is openly gay himself, signed into law two landmark pieces of legislation that finally made it out of the Colorado Legislature this year: HB19-1039, Jude’s Law, and HB19-1129, Prohibit Conversion Therapy for a Minor.

Jude’s Law, so-named for a young transgender girl who has testified on its behalf for four years in a row, removes barriers between transgender Coloradans and accurate identification. Under the new law, trans and non-binary Coloradans do not need surgery, a name change or a court order to receive a brand new birth certificate that aligns with their identity. The law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

The ban on conversion therapy marks a milestone for LGBTQ activists in Colorado, who have pushed a version of this bill in every legislative session for five years. It bars mental health providers from performing conversion therapy — a dangerous and discredited practice that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity — on minors. This law will go into effect on Aug. 2, 2019.

Daniel Ramos, executive director of One Colorado, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization and biggest supporters of these bills, said in a One Colorado newsletter:
“This was a historic session for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families. With legislation that impacts youth, transgender, and non-binary Coloradans, One Colorado championed bills for some of the most vulnerable in our community to improve the everyday lives of LGBTQ Coloradans. The strong bipartisan support of both of these bills further demonstrates that LGBTQ equality should be a nonpartisan issue, and we applaud the Republicans who stood with our community. Colorado will continue to make history as our country’s first openly gay Governor, Jared Polis, signs our pro-equality agenda into law to send a strong message that Colorado is a state that is open to all.”

The national outlook for LGBTQ rights looks bleak, at least as long as the Trump administration quietly kills the people for whom it publicly preaches acceptance, but if you want hope — if you need hope, as so many of us do right now — at least rest assured that Colorado continues to move forward to protect its most vulnerable.

It is a hard climb toward progress, and it is far from over, but celebrating a small step up will serve us far better than allowing ourselves to be pushed down the hill.


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