One Colorado's agenda for the four-month legislative session that began last week will include bills on HIV prevention, gender identity and expression, and the "panic" court defense for violence against gay or transgender people and training for foster families.
The state's largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and their families will hold its legislative kickoff even Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Pride and Swagger pub at 450 East 17th Ave. in Denver. The gather is free and open to the public.
“Last year was a historic session for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families," Daniel Ramos, One Colorado's executive director, said in a statement, referring to the passage of laws on birth certificates and banning gay conversion therapy. "One Colorado championed bills for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, with legislation that improves the everyday lives of LGBTQ youth, transgender and nonbinary Coloradans.
"The strong bipartisan support of those bills further demonstrates that LGBTQ equality is a nonpartisan issue. This session, we continue to advocate for vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community by working to affirm LGBTQ youth in foster care, increasing access to PrEP, PEP and other HIV prevention medications, adding gender identity and gender expression to Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act, and banning the gay and trans panic defense. We look forward to lifting up the voices of the LGBTQ community and partnering with our bill sponsors to bring legislation forward that will address the gap between legal and lived equality of LGBTQ Coloradans and their families.”
One Colorado formed its new priorities from feedback gathered in 18 community meetings on its One Colorado For All Statewide Tour last fall, the organization said. One Colorado claims more than 105,000 supporters from all 64 Colorado counties, as well.
One of the four bills had been introduced as of Monday evening.
House Bill 1061, the HIV Infection Prevention Medications Bill, would allow people to protect themselves without a prescription, similar to Plan B contraceptives and naloxone overdose antidote. The bill blocks insurers from requiring patients to undergo therapy.
The bill is sponsored by Reps. Alex Valdez and Leslie Herod, both Democrats from Denver.
“This bill is essential in the fight to end the AIDS epidemic once and for all. By increasing access to HIV prevention medications, we can reduce the rate of infection and ensure that at-risk Coloradans are protected against the virus,” Valdez, who chairs of the legislature's LGBTQ Caucus, said in a statement released by One Colorado.
Herod, who chairs the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus, added, “HIV disproportionately affects black, brown and transgender communities, who already face disadvantages in accessing healthcare. This bill breaks down barriers and opens up HIV prevention medications to those who need it most.”
Other bills expected this session, include:
- Adding gender identity and expression to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. Sexual orientation has been part of the state law since 2008. "As society evolves, so does the language that we use," stated Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, who expects to sponsor the bill.
- Ending the use of panic as a defense for violence against a gay or transgender person. "No one should ever be excused from murder because their victim is gay or transgender, and Colorado must send an indisputable message that we fully value the lives and dignity of all people, including black transgender women," Herod said.
- Training families to care for LGBTQ children, who historically have faced a higher risk of being treated poorly and ending up in group homes. “We want to ensure that all of Colorado‘s youth, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, grow up in homes that are both caring and affirming," said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, who expects to carry the bill. "Foster families are a critical, important part of caring for our youth. We want to ensure that all families receive training to support our children in foster care that includes affirmation of sexual orientation and gender identity.”