Republican members of the Colorado Senate’s State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee took two bad votes on bills that personally impact lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and their families on April 23.
The first of the two, Senate Bill 241, would allow adoption and foster care agencies to turn away any potential parent or family from providing a loving home to a child, simply because that parent or family doesn’t meet their religious requirements. The bill would also endanger children by allowing for a religious exemption in areas of child abuse and neglect, so long as that abuse does not “imminently and seriously endanger a minor’s physical health,” and as long as the parents claimed it was based on religious beliefs or moral convictions.
“Considering the Senate majority has now killed two pro-LGBTQ bills this session, while advancing a decidedly anti-LGBTQ license to discriminate bill, it is clear that a new majority in the Colorado Senate is needed.”
Daniel Ramos, Executive Director One Colorado
Sponsored by perennial proponent of anti-LGBTQ legislation, Senator Kevin Lundberg, the bill passed on a party-line vote of 3-2, and will next be heard before the full Senate.
“As the parent of an adopted child and a citizen of this state, I am angry that this kind of bill would be introduced, and that anyone would think that encouraging the right to discriminate is more important than protecting children in the state’s care. Every person who voted for this bill is abandoning their obligation to the neediest among us and every adoption agency that thinks that putting their personal beliefs over the needs of children and children’s safety should be ashamed,” said John McHugh, a Denver-based attorney and father who adopted his daughter, Emma, with his husband, Rob.
“Adoption decisions should be made based on the best interest of the child. Not based on religious beliefs of child service workers and placement agencies. Taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to fund adoption agencies that reject prospective adoptive parents, based on factors that have nothing to do with being a good parent,” said Adrienne Elliot, Executive Director of Adoption Options, a Denver-based adoption agency.
“Following the teachings of one’s faith is important, but that doesn’t mean we should impose our beliefs on others. Religion should not be used as an excuse to discriminate – but that’s exactly what this religious exemption would allow,” said Reverend Amanda Henderson, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado.
“The primary harmful effect of this bill is that it really elevates the personal, individual religious beliefs of a foster care or adoptive family above the best interest and welfare of the child. With this bill, we are mortgaging the wellbeing of these vulnerable children for individual beliefs. Under no circumstances is this acceptable,” said Appalenia Udell, an attorney and former Court Appointed Special Advocate who worked with abused and neglected children in foster care in Colorado.
“This was another installment in a series of horrific bills we have seen this session that would take Colorado backwards in the areas of LGBTQ equality. Not only is this bill plainly mean-spirited and would allow for a broad license to discriminate against LGBTQ parents, but in the name of religious freedom, this bill would allow for child abuse. The fact this bill passed out of committee on the same day that the bill to ban conversion therapy on minors died before the same committee just adds further insult to the LGBTQ community,” said Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families.
Shortly after Senate Bill 241 passed, the State Affairs committee considered a bill to ban the harmful, discredited practice of conversion therapy on LGBTQ minors for the 4th year in a row. And for the 4th year in a row, Senate Republicans on the committee voted down House Bill 1245 on a party-line vote of 3-2.
“This bill was marked for death the instant it passed out of the House, and that is shameful. Rather than allow for an honest debate before the full Senate on an issue that affects so many young LGBTQ Coloradans, the Senate failed to follow the lead of their House counterparts who passed this bill on a bipartisan vote, and sent this bill to their ‘kill committee’ for the fourth year in a row,” Ramos continued.
“Considering the Senate majority has now killed two pro-LGBTQ bills this session, while advancing a decidedly anti-LGBTQ license to discriminate bill this afternoon, it is clear that a new majority in the Colorado Senate is needed. A majority that is pro-equality and will stand up for all Coloradans, including LGBTQ Coloradans, in the fight for a fair and just Colorado,” Ramos concluded.
House Bill 1046, the Birth Certificate Modernization Act, was voted down before the Senate State Affairs committee back on March 28, 2018.