Gov. Roy Romer One Colorado

Roy Romer, Colorado's governor from 1987 to 1999, speaks to One Colorado at its annual Ally Awards Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020.

One Colorado celebrated a decade of advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Coloradans, honoring allies and hearing from three former governors online Saturday.

Gov. Roy Romer recalled the turning point on the issue in Colorado, one that continues with opponents who fear that the LGBTQ political agenda impedes on parental rights and, in other cases, religious liberty.

Amendment 2 struck down laws and standards that protected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Coloradans. The constitutional amendment won with 53% of the vote in 1992, which led to Colorado being called the "hate state" by gay rights supporters. Romer, the governor at the time, called it a watershed moment for Colorado, he said Saturday.

The organization honored its top allies, presenting awards to the Colorado Lawyers Committee, The Equity Project founder Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler and Katherine Archuleta, the former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under President Obama.

One Colorado has marshaled political might and money around the issue. Two years ago, however, One Colorado also was at the forefront when the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 in favor of a Lakewood baker who refused to decorate a cake for a same-sex couple, citing his religious objections.

Romer told One Colorado, among a series of recorded addresses, how he worked to defeat the constitutional amendment in 1992 and celebrated when it was struck down by the High Court in 1996.

"At that point we began to establish some leadership, I think, in the nation as a state that was going to be open and fair and wise about our relationship with the gay community," he said.

Romer was followed by the state's first gay governor, Jared Polis.

He, too, went through a list of laws he and other Democrats have helped change, and that success reflects on Colorado.

"It's a powerful message that in Colorado we celebrate everybody," Polis said, "regardless of who you love or who you are."

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is running for U.S. Senate also provided a taped address. He called a special session in 2012 to pass a vote on civil unions. It did not pass until the next year, still two years before the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.

"I'd be proud to work with you all to bring Colorado closer to true equality," Hickenlooper said Saturday.

Executive director Daniel Ramos shared his remembrances Saturday. He announced in June he was leaving to work on a nonprofit aimed at democracy and civic engagement. He has been with the organization nearly since its start.

"Under Daniel's leadership we went from the hate state to one of the leaders in LGBTQ rights," One Colorado Education Fund chair, Dr. Ellen Winiarczyk, told attendees Saturday."

His last day was July 31. On Saturday Ramos recalled growing up in Sterling, not just the first in his family to go to college but the first family member to vote. His mother, Ramos said, was astonished when he would go to the Capitol that he could just walk right in.

"The system we've built in America leaves so many people out, especially Black, brown and low-income folks," he said. "But I'm proud of the work One Colorado has done to overcome obstacles like this that get in the way of achieving a democracy where all can participate."

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