The Republican-led Colorado Senate hasn’t been hospitable to legislations supported by the state’s LGBTQ advocates. A bill to extend legal protections based on physical or mental disabilities, sexual orientation and transgender status broke that losing streak Wednesday.
House Bill 1188 passed the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee unanimously. The bill is co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Don Coram of Montrose and Democratic Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City. In the House, it’s sponsored by Mike Foote, a Democrat from Lafayette.
The bill adds disabilities and sexual orientation and identity to the list of bias-motivated crimes that can lead to tougher penalties if a crime is based on hate.
“This bill will help to protect our citizens that deal with physical and mental disabilities and citizens of all sexual orientations,” Moreno said in a statement. “With the signing of this bill, Colorado can stay consistent with the message it has about being an open and welcoming state to everyone and also about ensuring safety for those who are discriminated race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.
“Bias against people with disabilities takes many forms, often resulting in discriminatory actions in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Disability bias can also manifest itself in the form of violence — and it is imperative that a message be sent to our country that these acts of bias motivated hatred are not acceptable in our society. ”
Republicans still have an 18-17 majority in the Senate. However, assuming Republican committee members Vicki Marble of Fort Collins, Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and Owen Hill of Colorado Springs stay true to their committee vote, the bill should be on its way to the governor’s desk soon.
It passed the House, 48-15, on March 15.
Coram said in a statement. “This bill is overdue. These vulnerable populations need to know that the state of Colorado has their back, that harassment based on sexual orientation or disability is a crime that we will not stand for, and that our laws will evolve to reflect our changing state. Often, these crimes go unreported. Today, we took a crucial step in encouraging those who suffer these unacceptable crimes to come forward.”
Daniel Ramos, the executive director of One Colorado, the state’s largest LBGTQ advocacy organization, released a statement after Wednesday’s key committee win:
“House Bill 1188 is a common-sense proposal that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and those living with disabilities. We applaud Senate Republicans for joining the Democrats on the committee to unanimously support the bill.“In the wake of the current administration, there has been a disturbing rise in hate crimes and violence targeting immigrants, LGBTQ community members, Muslims, and others across the country. In fact, just days after Trump’s election, there was a hate crime committed in Denver against a transgender Coloradan because of who she was. It’s a crucial time to make sure that the most vulnerable are protected in our state.“This bill is a simple fix that sends a message that harassment and violence against LGBTQ people and people with disabilities is not acceptable. We look forward to seeing it pass the full senate and be signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper. We also want to thank Representative Mike Foote, Senator Dominick Moreno, and Senator Don Coram for sponsoring the bill, as well as State Senators Steve Fenberg, Lois Court, Owen Hill, Jerry Sonnenberg, and Vicki Marble for their votes today in support of LGBTQ Coloradans, our families, and people with disabilities.”