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‘Out Front’ LGBTQ lawmakers are showing their pride during PrideFest weekend

Author: Joey Bunch - June 17, 2017 - Updated: February 23, 2018

For PrideFest this weekend in Denver, it’s worth an #ICYMI to revisit Out Front magazine’s showcase of the six members of the Colorado legislature’s cohesive LGBTQ Caucus.

Speaking of which, Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on the west steps of the state Capitol, the LGBTQ Caucus and One Colorado will put on the Pride Rally for Equality.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, U.S. Rep. Diane DeGette and Gov. John Hickenlooper are expected to speak.

The group of Democrats in the caucus worked to pass hate-crime protections for their community in the last session and annually provides the fire break against religious liberty legislation they say is geared to discriminate.

“Since the election, queers across the nation are preparing for the worst under the new administration,” Out Front wrote in February. “While no major punches have been thrown under the Trump administration, Colorado has already seen and blocked a broad religious exemption proposal that would have allowed individuals and businesses to claim their religion gives them permission to ignore laws they don’t want to follow.”

Each Colorado lawmaker is profiled, under a heading with a nickname. Sure, everybody knows Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City as Dom, but who knew Rep. Paul Rosenthal from Denver goes by “Paulie”?  Colorado Politics would suggest Sledgehammer, because he makes a big impression. And Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver went with her middle name, Nicole, but we’d call her Dynamite.

Denver-based Out Front is a venerable publication for the LGBTQ community reaching seven states and about 76,000 readers, as of 2015. Its website has a global reach.

The magazine was founded in 1976. Colorado native Jerry Cunningham and his partner, JC McDonald, bought the then-financially rocky operation along with its parent company, Q Publishing, in 2012.

Besides Moreno, Rosenthal and Herod, the caucus includes Reps. Daneya Esgar of Pueblo and Joann Ginal of Fort Collins, led by Sen. Lucia Guzman, a Denver minister who also serves as Senate Democratic leader.

“I am honored to work with such a distinguished group of public servants who represent the LGBTQ community with pride and distinction,” Guzman said in a statement last week. “Representation is important, and in our roles in the General Assembly, we fight every day to make sure the voices of LGBTQ Coloradans are heard, and their rights remain protected.

“As Colorado celebrates Pride Month, we should not only honor LGBTQ leaders who are currently in office, but remember past legislators who affected change in a such a profound way as champions of our community. State Sens. Pat Steadman and Jessie Ulibarri immediately come to mind as former legislators who fought the good fight. From Amendment 2 to civil unions, Senators Steadman and Ulibarri, along with others, helped pave the way for Colorado to become the accepting state it is today for LGBTQ Coloradans. I wish everyone a happy PrideFest, and I thank my colleagues for being such excellent role models for the LGBTQ community.”

Amendment 2 was the 1992 voter-approved ballot initiative that barred state and local laws from prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in 1996 that it violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Colorado legislature, with the LGBTQ Caucus at the helm, passed civil unions for same-sex couples in 2013.


Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.