Froelich, Fields, Jaquez Lewis and Bridges

From left, Rep. Meg Froelich, Sen. Rhonda Fields, Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis and One Colorado executive director Nadine Bridges.

The Colorado General Assembly will hear to key bills to give the state's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Coloradans  open gender expression and separately, the ability to adopt or foster children.

The latter bill prevents discrimination by entities that receive state funding and offer services to place children in adopted or foster care. The legislation also requires pre and post-placement training requirements for -foster parents.

"In Colorado, we value our families — in whatever shape or form they come in," Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "As a sponsor of this bill, I'm passionate about uniting caring foster parents with children in need of homes and finding loving homes for foster youth. Our foster care system works best when we are inclusive of all families."

House Bill 1072 is also sponsored by Democratic Sens. Rhonda Fields of Aurora and Sonya Jaquez Lewis of Longmont.

“LGBTQ Coloradans are over-represented in the foster care system, both as foster youth and foster parents," stated Nadine Bridges, the executive director of One Colorado, the state's largest LGBTQ advocacy organization. "If we want to make progress toward our shared goal of finding a loving and affirming home for every foster youth in Colorado, we need to secure protections and provide training for LGBTQ inclusivity. This bill is a step in the right direction.”

With Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and the state's first gay governor in office, advocates have a good chance.

The state has approached this issue from the other direction in recent years, as Republicans introduced legislation in 2019 to prevent sanctions against organizations that make decisions, including adoption and foster care, based on their sincerely held religious beliefs.

NONPROFIT REGISTER | Nadine Bridges to lead One Colorado

The Democratic majority killed House Bill 1140 after its first hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, the same outcome as the so-called Live and Let Live Act the year before.

"Our nation has a long and honorable history of respecting and accommodating religious liberty and freedom rights of its people, dating from before the American Revolution to the present," Rep. Stephen Humphrey, R-Severance, the latter bill's sponsor, told the Judiciary Committee in 2018. 

That included hiring and serving those who share their beliefs, he said. The state, in return, receives essential public services, such as childcare and education. The bill included language about same-sex marriages and defining men and women by the anatomical gender when they are born.

Supporters of the bill said a lack of support for religiously affiliated public service providers is a risk to an already overburdened system that serves 300 to 500 Colorado kids a year.

This year, One Colorado also supports House Bill 1108, which the organization said updates prohibitions against gender-based discrimination, including over an individual’s gender expression or gender identity under the existing Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City.

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