Colorado's Civil Rights Commission has a serious problem — but the House won't fix it


Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage across America, slammed the Colorado Civil Rights Commission as “neither tolerant nor respectful.” The Commission’s unfairness landed it in the U.S. Supreme Court and on the front pages of newspapers across the country last year. It is clear that the Justices and the nation expect changes.

Fortunately, the Colorado Senate introduced changes this year that will strengthen the Colorado Civil Rights Commission by providing transparency, equality, and fairness for all Coloradans.

The Senate’s proposal reduces partisan influence from Republicans and Democrats by including a political independent on the Commission. Currently, independents, who are the largest number of voters in Colorado, are not guaranteed a seat on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The proposal also calls for greater transparency in the Civil Rights Commission’s proceedings, stronger penalties for violators, and the rights of plaintiffs and defendants to seek justice in a court of law.

Unfortunately, the Colorado House of Representatives wants the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to continue as is, with no changes. This isn’t fair, and this isn’t right for Colorado.

When protecting the civil rights of Coloradans, partisan influences shouldn’t be a factor. Lady Justice is blindfolded for a reason. Impartiality is critical in determining guilt, and Coloradans facing the commission shouldn’t have to worry about their fate based upon the political leanings of commission members.

The proceedings should also be open to the public for review. The legislature should be able to review the decisions of the commission for partisan or bias influence.

Finally, repeat violators of Coloradans’ civil rights should face stronger penalties. Unlawful discrimination should not be tolerated.

When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission receives such embarrassing attention from U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Coloradans should demand important improvements.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission serves an important role in protecting the civil rights of Coloradans. It should continue to serve the interests of all Coloradans by implementing these important improvements from the Colorado Senate.

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