Discrimination comes in pairs in the Colorado Senate.
On Monday, the upper chambers of the Colorado General Assembly killed a landmark bill that would have prohibited conversion therapy in the statewhile advancing legislation that would allow religiously affiliated adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.
Also known as the “Colorado Children First Act,” Senate Bill 241 would allow any agency which cites faith-based objections to the deny placement of a child in a queer household.
The anti-LGBTQ legislation prevents “the state government from taking certain adverse action against a person or organization for their religious beliefs in relation to adoptive and foster care services.”
Thus, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission would be unable to fine any such entity for turning away LGBTQ prospective parents.
Conservative advocacy groups believe this legislation is necessary to protect religiously affiliated adoption and foster care agencies. The Colorado Springs-based Family Policy Alliance claims LGBTQ activists across the U.S. have been “ganging up” on faith-based centers by “forcing them to either violate their beliefs by placing children with homosexual couples or to shut down.”
“Already, they have forced such non-profit groups to close their doors in Massachusetts, Illinois, D.C., and parts of California,” the anti-LGBTQ group says. “They are actively suing in several other states, and Colorado faith-based agencies are feeling tremendous pressure.”
But same-sex couples say this legislation will prevent children from being placed in loving homes.
“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,” says Denver-based attorney John McHugh in a statement.
McHugh and his husband, Rob, have an adopted daughter, Emma.
He claims the legislation places the “personal beliefs [of religious conservatives] over the needs of children and children’s safety.”
Despite the concerns of critics in the LGBTQ community, the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee gave its approval to SB 241 yesterday. The legislation was passed along party linesby a vote of 3 to 2.
What advocates say is insult to injury, however, is that the bill’s passage coincided with the failure of a push to ban the discredited practice of conversion therapy in Colorado. House Bill 1245 would have outlawed orientation change efforts on LGBTQ youth, which have condemned by nearly every leading U.S. medical association as “harmful” and “ineffective” at its stated goal.
To date, 10 states and Washington, D.C. have prohibited “gay cure” treatment on LGBTQ youthwhile Hawaii and Maryland inch closer to passing their own bills.
But Colorado’s conversion therapy ban was voted down for the fourth year in a row. Senate Republicans on the Senate Affairs committee killed the legislation by the exact same margin they approved the adoption bill: 3 to 2.
The advocacy group One Colorado called the action “another installment in a series of horrific bills we have seen this session that would take Colorado backward.”
“This bill was marked for death the instant it passed out of the House, and that is shameful,” Executive Director Daniel Ramos said in a statement. “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.”
In March, the Senate Affairs committee (often referred to as the “kill committee”) voted down the Birth Certificate Modernization Act, which would have made it easier for trans people to correct their legal documentation.
The anti-LGBTQ adoption bill will next head to the Senate floor for a full vote but is unlikely to become law. The House is overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats.
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