Over 300 Coloradans participated in the 2017 LGBTQ Lobby Day, organized by the non-profit organization One Colorado in Denver Monday morning.
This event was organized so members of the LGBTQ community would have a chance to meet with the representatives of their districts to discuss three bills that will affect the state policy: House Bill 17-1122, the Birth Certificate Modernization Act; House Bill 17-1156, Prohibiting Conversion Therapy and House Bill 17-1188, Concerning Bias-Motivated Harassment.
The Birth Certificate Modernization Act would make the process of changing gender on birth certificates less burdensome for transgender Coloradans. As of right now, the policy states that you must undergo surgery and stand before a judge before the birth certificate is updated.
One community member from Fort Collins advocated for the legislation because she is concerned that her transgender daughter’s birth certificate will cause problems for her in the future because it states that she is male. As she is still a minor, her mother said surgery could be dangerous for her, and she has shown no interest in pursuing a procedure.
House Bill 17-1156, Prohibiting Conversion Therapy, will prohibit state-licensed mental health care providers from practicing conversion therapy on minors in the state of Colorado.
Rebecca Shardy, a social worker of 30 years and a member of the Fort Collins constituency, was in attendance to advocate for this bill explicitly. Her experience as a social worker has led her to pursue an active role in LGBTQ community.
Shardy started a group called Dialogues of Courage that visits churches in favor of conversion therapy and attempts to share stories from the LGBTQ community to broaden perspectives.
“What we found was that the church members really struggled having their own experiences, confusing later preference with early abuse,” Shardy said. “The key here is to find a common ground with those who oppose you and make a heart connection.”
The third piece of legislation, Concerning Bias-Motivated Harassment, will add LGBTQ to Colorado’s existing bias-motivated harassment statue. The statute currently does not include physical or mental disabilities, sexual orientation or transgender status.
According to One Colorado, the lack of legislation protecting the LGBTQ community sends an implicit message that harassment of the LGBTQ community and those with disabilities is acceptable.
Anti-gay hate crimes are the third most frequent kind of hate crime in America, after race and religion, according to One Colorado’s website. According to a 2006 FBI report, 16 percent of 7,722 hate crimes were based on the victim’s sexual orientation.
Of the 12 community members who traveled to the lobby day from Fort Collins, there was one current Colorado State University student, Lex Loutzenhiser. Lex is a senior, and the co-president of the campus organization Prism, an advocacy group committed to education and involvement of those who identify with the LGBTQ community.
“I am here today because these policies will impact the entire state including those at CSU and anyone who identifies on the LGBTQ spectrum,” Loutzenhiser said. “It’s really important for me to be here to advocate on behalf of those students and their families.”
Though Fort Collins community members wanted to meet with their representative, Joann Ginal, she was unable to meet with the group Monday. However, they were able to meet with Clinton Phye, a representative from her office.
After the group expressed their concerns and outlined their proposals, it was made clear that the Ginal would be in support of passing the new bills.
“We are with you; it’s absurd that we still have to have this conversation in this day and time,” Phye said.
After the lobbying event came to an end, a pro-Trump rally was held outside the capitol. This rally was not in protest of the LGBTQ Lobby Day, but rather to show their support of President Trump’s decisions in office.
One of the guest speakers, veteran Jim Lockard, spoke passionately about his support for the new president, and how he believes the constitution is back in Trump’s focus.
“We as Americans need to understand how to make our own choices and live our own lives,” Lockard said in response to the LGBTQ Lobby Day. “I’d be glad to meet one of these folks in the street after they have made their own choices within their constitutional rights. … It’s when they are asking for specific legislation and special treatment, that a line is crossed. And that’s when we have a problem.”
A member of the LGBTQ community, Jarod Fortune, was present as a pro-Trump supporter as well.
“Keep the government out of my private life,” Fortune said. “I know how to live my life and I know what it takes to be successful. More bills and regulations equals less freedom and I’m against that.”
Collegian reporter Drew Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dc6smith19.