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Ernest LuningErnest LuningFebruary 17, 20184min948

Two Capitol Democrats with a history of blazing trails for LGBTQ equality are among the recipients of One Colorado Education Fund's annual Ally Awards, the advocacy organization announced this week. Gov. John Hickenlooper is one of three All Award winners, and Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, a Denver Democrat, is slated to receive One Colorado's Lifetime Achievement Award at an Aug. 25 gala in Denver.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 8, 20184min1852

Rep. Paul Rosenthal has two primary challengers in his re-election bid in House District 9, but he doesn’t lack support from fellow Democrats close to home.

Rosenthal has key endorsements from former State Sen. Joyce Foster, Denver Councilwoman Kendra Black, Denver Public Schools board member Anne Rowe, and RTD board member Claudia Folska.

Rosenthal said his campaign slogan is “Building Coalitions, Getting Results.”

“Over the years, I’ve seen Paul lead in this community, especially on climate change, criminal justice reform, LGBTQ and affordable housing issues,” Foster, also a former Denver city councilwoman, said in a statement. “He’s a good man who works hard, cares deeply, and has helped so many people. What I really admire is how he connects with people at his innovative events and brings individuals and groups to the Capitol to meet legislators. We need responsive people like Paul in the legislature.”

Rosenthal is seeking is fourth and final two-year term in the House representing the southeast Denver district. He faces primary challenges from Emily Sirota and veteran Ashley Wheeland.

The race will be one to watch. Last year a Democratic campaign operative accused Rosenthal of touching him improperly at a party. The charge was dismissed after an House investigation, as the allegation pre-dated Rosenthal’s service in the legislature. He denies it ever happened.

Last week, former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders endorsed Sirota, as did state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, former Denver Public Schools board members James Mejia and Jeannie Kaplan and former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Rosenthal’s campaign joked that he was endorsed by Bernie, too — “long-time and well known HD9 Democratic activist also named Bernie, namely Bernie Steinberg.”

Rosenthal’s campaign noted in a statement his endorsements were “from progressive leaders and activists who live in — or have led — in the area of House District 9.”

“My friends, neighbors, and constituents in southeast Denver know me well,” Rosenthal stated. “They know how I’ve been devoted to helping people, especially students who deserve more recognition for their success, refugees, LGBTQ and those struggling families who need assistance to get ahead.”

His other endorsements from Democrats within the district include: Dr. Faye Rison, Ron and Bobbi Morrow, John Stoffel, Mike and Elizabeth Bono, Roger Armstrong, Ted and Deborhah Dreith-Calloway, Dianne Tramutola-Lawson, Lee McDonnell, Kathy Steinberg, Larry and Cynthia Gallegos, David and Myra Rieger, Steve Bennett, Harry Bailis, Julie Friedemann, Kip Sleichter, Sam Valeriano, Ben and Selene Gochman, Gayle Stallings, Sarah Shirazi, Sandy Mandel, Londa Coddington, Dorie Furman, Peter Kandell and George Harding, Cecilia Mascarenas, AJ Shaikh and Eddie Valle, Scott Bates, Barry Cohen, Bert and Diane Hansen and Deborah Barnard among others, the campaign said.

He also has been endorsed by fellow legislative Democrats, including Sen. Angela Williams of Denver, Rep. James Coleman of Denver, Rep. Dan Pabon of Denver, Rep. Joann Ginal of Fort Collins, Rep. Edie Hooton of Boulder and Rep. Donald Valdez of La Jara, as well as Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchDecember 5, 20172min914

State Rep. Leslie Herod leads a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Coloradans who filed a brief to the Supreme Court as it considers whether the owner of the Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood had the right to refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012.

They rely on the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, which the Masterpiece Cake Shop is challenging. The baker, Jack Phillips, said he refused to create a cake for the couple because it violated his religious beliefs against same-sex marriage.

“Colorado has a compelling interest in protecting the rights of all of its citizens,” Herod’s brief states. “LGBT Coloradans have the same right to dignity and participation in the public sphere that CADA assures to all other citizens of the State. Creating a carve-out to permit discrimination against LGBT people would deny them that essential dignity, and threaten the civil rights laws themselves.”

The brief in its entirety can be read by clicking here.

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Tuesday in the landmark Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, which pits religious religious beliefs, creative consent and protection from discrimination.

A ruling from the right-leaning court could take months.

A number of other Colorado groups, as well as Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, have filed briefs in defense of the state anti-discrimination law.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyOctober 24, 20172min396

Denver has garnered high marks last week for its devotion to the LGBTQ community.

The Human Rights Campaign recognized the Mile High City with a perfect score — the first city to earn the recognition in Colorado — on the LGBTQ civil rights organization’s 2017 Municipal Equality Index.

According to the group’s website, “the Municipal Equality Index examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there.” More than 500 municipalities in all 50 states were studied and rated on 44 different criteria in this year’s index.

Denver was one of just 68 municipalities to achieve a perfect core.

“In Denver, we stand firmly for the ideals of inclusion, acceptance and opportunity. These are our values,” Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement. “We will continue to keep Denver a city that is welcoming to all by standing together against hate and never allowing it to divide our city. We have worked hard to achieve this score, and I’m grateful to the members of my LGBTQ Commission for leading the way.”

The index report applauded Denver as a success story, commending the city and its LGBTQ Comission for its pro-LGBTQ actions including amending its building code to mandate non-gendered signage for single-stall and family bathrooms and appointing a police department liaison for the LGBTQ community.

“The commission has been working on our ‘Pathway to 100’ plan since 2015, and we are honored to receive this recognition,” Leah Pryor-Lease, chair of the LGBTQ Commission, said in a statement. “This achievement is the result of a great deal of hard work, thoughtful partnership and strong leadership from stakeholders across the city.”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 23, 20175min343

Since Colorado lawmakers passed legislation to address bullying in schools in 2011, programs to combat it have grown from 37 percent of the state’s 178 school districts to more than 80 percent, and gay-straight alliances are now in 196 schools and available to 167,964 students.

The presence of gay-straight alliances cut bullying numbers in half, according to the report released Wednesday by One Colorado, the state’s largest and politically engaged organization for the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer residents and their families.

The report, “Safe Schools for LGBTQ Students: A Look Back at Colorado’s Anti-Bullying Efforts,” is available online.

The report states:

Colorado has come a long way in the past 6 years to make a positive impact in our schools for many students, but there is still work that needs to be done to ensure all students, including LGBTQ students, feel safe, welcome, and empowered to make change. There is a high demand for educator trainings, resources for educators who want to include LGBTQ topics in the classroom, and best practices for engaging young people in activities for LGBTQ and allied students.

One Colorado looked at bullying statistics over the six years since the legislature passed House Bill 1254.

The bill had broad bipartisan supporting, passing the House 47-18 and the Senate 33-2.

One Colorado released a statement with the report Wednesday morning:

We know bullying is still prevalent in our schools, both in urban and rural areas, and LGBTQ young people are still among the most vulnerable to harassment and violence. One of the first ways school districts can tackle this issue is to make sure their policies explicitly enumerate protections for students based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. One Colorado’s report shows that in addition to comprehensive anti-bullying policies, allowing students access to Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), supportive educators, and LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum can create a more supportive environment for young people.

By issuing reports like this, One Colorado hopes schools will make it a priority to ensure all students are successful, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We hope students and parents in places without updated policies will work with their school districts to make sure their anti-bullying efforts are LGBTQ-inclusive. The report also serves as a resource to help school districts identify the greatest needs of LGBTQ young people, and focus the necessary resources required to address them, in ways that are most effective.

One Colorado is dedicated to a future where every young person in our state has a school environment where they feel safe, welcome, and empowered to make change. It is important we continue to work with school districts, administrators, educators, and students to build a climate across our state where LGBTQ students can be out and respected in their schools.

In the session that ended in May legislators added harassment against LGBTQ people and the disabled to the state’s hate crime law.

House Bill 1188 also had bipartisan support, passing the Senate, 23-12, and the House, 48-15.

One Colorado pushes every year, but it hasn’t been able to pass a ban on gay conversion therapy for minors. While proponents of a ban say it is discredited and dangerous for young people struggling with their sexual identity, Republicans say the bill gets between parents and what they think is best for their child.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 22, 20175min463
Daniel Ramos was selected as the new executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group One Colorado.
Daniel Ramos

For the past three years, legislators in Colorado have worked to ban conversion therapy, a dangerous and discredited practice where licensed mental health professionals try to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

For the past three years, I’ve sat next to — and listened to — survivors’ saddening and terrifying stories in committee hearings. For the past three years, Republican leadership in the Colorado Senate has blocked this legislation from reaching the Senate floor for debate and a vote. And in those past three years, seven more states have passed laws to ban this practice, bringing the total to nine states plus the District of Columbia, with many cities across the country following suit. An additional 20 states have attempted to ban conversion therapy in the past year alone, with varied results.

Studies show lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer young people are already much more likely to face bullying, harassment, and family rejection just because of who they are. The futile and extremely harmful practice of conversion therapy further isolates these young people and sets them up for a range of serious, negative mental health outcomes. Banning these abusive practices, in Colorado and across the country, is an important step to protecting the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community.

That is why the Movement Advancement Project recently released their The LGBT Policy Spotlight: Conversion Therapy Bans report. This report is an update to a 2015 report on conversion therapy and concludes with the recommendation that states should pass legislation, like that recently signed in New Mexico and Rhode Island, to ban harmful conversion therapy practices on minors.

Every mainstream mental and medical professional association in the country, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and several other renowned medical groups, have discounted conversion therapy as a legitimate practice.

Laws and policies that protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy are needed to ensure that therapists who are licensed by the state are providing competent, affirming care and are not harming their patients. Minors are almost always forced or coerced to undergo conversion therapy rather than opting to undertake these treatments on their own. Conversion therapy is harmful to those who are subjected to it by increasing the risk for depression, anxiety, other mental health disorders, homelessness, drug abuse, self-harm, and suicide — and the risks are even greater for young people. Conversion therapy is a dangerous, harmful, unscientific, and illegitimate practice that should be discouraged and denounced as a means of changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

The recent increase in the amount of states that have banned this practice show that now, more than ever, Colorado must send a clear message to the LGBTQ community — especially to LGBTQ young people — that who you are is not something that needs to be cured or fixed. Not one more LGBTQ young person should be subjected to this harmful practice and it’s time Colorado follows the lead of these other states to ban conversion therapy once and for all.