Hate crimes in Colorado just added harassment against LGBTQ people and the disabled

Author: Joey Bunch - May 4, 2017 - Updated: May 4, 2017

This is shaping up to be a pivotal week for LGBTQ Coloradans on discrimination, religious liberty and the state hate crime law.

Tuesday, Democratic members of Congress, including all of Colorado’s members, agreed to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination under civil rights protections.

Thursday, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order expanding religious liberty laws, which could allow what LGBTQ advocates think is blatant discrimination by denying services or restricting restrooms or locker rooms against transgender people.

Insights: Hate crimes, is it too much to ask that the cops get it right?

But Wednesday was a day to savor for One Colorado, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed bipartisan House Bill 1188 to add sexual orientation and physical and mental disabilities to the state’s hate-crime law against harassment.

“I feel great about passing this bill,” said Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, a deputy Boulder County prosecutor who first introduced the bill. “Protecting the disability and LGBTQ communities from hate-based harassment is so important and meaningful.”

The new law also upgrades the offense from a class 3 to a class 1 misdemeanor, increasing the maximum penalties from six months in jail and a $750 fine to 18 months and $5,000.

“I’m proud of this bill,” said Senate sponsor Don Coram, R-Montrose, who gave the bill the Republican muscle it needed to pass. “By offering the same protections to these groups that we extend to those already covered, we can encourage more victims to come forward and report the crimes against them.

“More Coloradans will feel secure today.”

House Bill 1188 passed the Senate, 23-12, on April 11, after passing the House, 48-15, on March 15.

The bill was co-sponsored in the Senate by Democrat Dominick Moreno of Commerce City.

“We applaud Gov. Hickenlooper for protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Coloradans and people living with disabilities,” Daniel Ramos, the executive director of One Colorado, 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 that strengthens protections for our communities and we are excited for it to become law. We thank Rep. Mike Foote, Sen. Dominick Moreno and Sen. Don Coram for their leadership in bringing this bill forward.”

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.


  • Tannim

    May 4, 2017 at 8:27 am

    So in other words, the Hick signed an unconstitutional bill. It’s unconstitutional because it favors some groups and discriminates against others. Classic liberal divide-and-conquer politics.

    Crimes were meant to be defined unilaterally, not more severe for some groups and not other. Murder is murder and theft is theft and assault is assault, regardless of whatever artificial subgroup labels one is stupid enough to cling to or allows to be stuck to them.

    Be HUMAN. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • Trudi

      May 4, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Very well said, Tannim. I’ve always had issues with labeling an attack on someone as a hate crime based on which protected class politicians put the victim into. If someone is attacked and/or murdered, that act alone is one of hate, regardless of what their social status the victim was part of. Why put the extra burden on the system to determine what was going through the attacker’s mind at the time? Mind reading is an imprecise science even in this enlightened day and age. Is the life of a rich white straight male any less important simply because he does not fit into some protected class.? As the wife of someone who fits that description (with the exception of the “rich” part), I would say that that victim is quite important. If he were murdered, why should his murderer be punished less severely than if the victim was a poor minority sexually confused individual? A life is a life and ALL life matters and should be valued equally in the eyes of the law, not based on whatever the latest fad of superficial inequality factors politicians are focusing on for votes. Leftists, however, always focus on the superficial while ignoring substance. True social justice would be treating all people – and victims – equally in the eyes of the law.

  • KYLE D

    May 4, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    We get it you’re special so they have to roll out the short bus of special laws for ya! So much for equality of law for everyone. Next there’s going to be a law because you don’t like how someone looked at you and it hurt your feeling.

  • Cliff Farris

    May 7, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Huh? LGBTQACDEFHIJKM (no N for normal) OPURSUVWXYZ. I treat people as people without adding labels. The government should do likewise.

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