Showing posts with label Colorado. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Colorado. Show all posts

November 9, 2018

Colorado the Anti Gay State 10 yrs Ago Elects A Gay Governor

 Gov elect Rep. Jared Polis 

The midterm election results pouring in on Tuesday night included a number of significant demographic milestones.
Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland will be the first Native American women to serve in Congress. Capitol Hill will have its first Muslim congresswomen with Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. And Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) will be the first openly gay person elected to serve as a state’s governor.
Polis, an entrepreneur and five-term member of Congress from Boulder, beat Republican Walker Stapleton by six points in Colorado’s gubernatorial contest. But Polis’s splash into the history books is all the more significant considering the ugly track record of the state he has been elected to run.
Since the early 1990s, Colorado has played a key role in the battle for LGBT rights. The state was dubbed the “hate state” because of a 1992 law that sparked international backlash and boycotts. But the same legislation teed up a landmark 1996 U.S. Supreme Court decision that helped lay the groundwork for marriage equality. 
“It’s a historic win — not just for the LGBT community but for the state of Colorado,” Annise Parker, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, a nonprofit group supporting LGBT politicians, told the Denver Post on Tuesday. “The fact that the state of Colorado, in 25 years, has gone from being dubbed the ‘hate state’ to a place that can elect someone who is not just openly gay, but publicly gay, that’s historic.”
Polis has been open about his sexuality since arriving in Congress in January 2009. His mother and father founded a greeting card company that later sold for hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Denver Post. One of the wealthiest members of the House, with a reported estimated wealth of $387 million, Polis earned a reputation in Washington as a tech-savvy public education advocate.
Polis has two children with his longtime partner, and he has never downplayed his orientation on the campaign trail — a sign of the shifting public perception in a state that has tossed off its Old West past in favor of a progressive identity. 
“Colorado is a state that values diversity,” he explained to the Denver Post before the midterm elections. “We’re willing to elect people that are going to do a good job for our state regardless of their background. . . . I think it’s exciting to show how far the LGBT community has come that it doesn’t stand in the way of being elected to the highest office in the state.”
Colorado’s ignominious “hate state” nickname starts with a fiery Colorado Springs car salesman named Will Perkins. Reacting to city ordinances banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, Perkins and a group of evangelical Christians formed Colorado for Family Values in 1991.
“Too many people have bought into the idea that homosexuality, as they call it, is genetic, that there isn’t anything they can do about it,” Perkins once told a group of followers, according to Denver’s Westword. “I’m here to tell you that there are only two flavors of mankind: male and female. There is no such thing as a homosexual.” 
To combat the legal protections, Perkins and his group launched a ballot initiative called Amendment 2. The referendum claimed anti-discrimination laws granted “special rights” to gays and lesbians, and aimed to ban such legal protections.
“They were talking about not wanting to give gay people special rights, but they were doing it by basically taking away rights,” University of Denver professor Kris McDaniel-Miccio recalled to Westword in 2017. “Everybody held their breath wondering if this was going to catch fire in other states, as well as Colorado.”
On Nov. 3, 1992, Colorado passed Amendment 2 by 53 percent. An immediate outcry followed from civil rights groups and activists. Celebrities such as Barbra Streisand spoke out against the amendment, according to Westword. In Colorado, business owners outraged over the law called for a boycott of their own state. 
“We have called for a global boycott,” one Denver businesswoman told the Christian Science Monitor in 1992. “Don’t come here for recreation. Don’t come here for business. The governor and the people need to realize that basic civil rights are fundamental. Creating change through a boycott is only one means of demonstrating the power of the people.”
According to the Monitor, a month after Amendment 2 was passed, the number of canceled conventions in Denver alone because of the boycott totaled more than $6 million.
Eventually a lawsuit was filed against the amendment on behalf of a gay man named Richard G. Evans who worked for the Denver mayor. As the case — Romer v. Evans — crawled up the federal court system to the Supreme Court, observers from across the country tuned in because similar proposals were on deck in other states. 
“It was a political issue, in that Amendment 2 was being cloned, so all eyes were on the results of the Supreme Court,” Mary Celeste, a lawyer who worked on the case, explained to KUNC radio in 2016. “If we lost there, then these initiatives would come forward across the country.”
In May 1996, the Supreme Court ruled that Colorado’s law was unconstitutional by a 6-to-3 majority. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy touched on themes that would turn up decades later in his famous Obergefell v. Hodges opinion, the case legalizing same-sex marriage.
Regarding Amendment 2, Kennedy wrote that the law “is at once too narrow and too broad. It identifies persons by a single trait and then denies them protection across the board. The resulting disqualification of a class of persons from the right to seek specific protection from the law is unprecedented in our jurisprudence.” 
Despite the eventual implosion of the 1992 amendment, Colorado has also played a more recent part in the struggle for equality.
In 2012, a cake shop owner in Lakewood, Colo., refused to serve a gay couple on religious grounds. The resulting Supreme Court decision — Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission — sided with the business.
Many legal observes watching the 2017 case picked up echoes of the state’s earlier gay rights court battle.
“What I find really fascinating about Amendment 2,” McDaniel-Miccio told Westword, “is that we’re reliving it again in 2017.”

August 29, 2018

Nine Yr Old Boy Kills Himself After Enduring Days of Homophobic Bullying

   Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255                                                                     

Jamel Myles killed himself after homophobic bullying at school, his mother said ( CBS )

A nine-year-old boy has taken his own life after enduring four days of homophobic bullying at school, his mother has said. 
Leia Pierce said her son, Jamel Myles, told her over the summer he was gay and wanted to tell his classmates at his school in Denver, Colorado because he was proud of his orientation.
She said Jamel had begun wearing fake fingernails on 20 August, the first day back following the school holiday. Four days later, she found his lifeless body at home. 
The Denver coroner’s office confirmed Jamel died by suicide.
"My child died because of bullying. My baby killed himself,” Mr Pierce told The Denver Post. “He didn’t deserve this. He wanted to make everybody happy even when he wasn’t. I want him back so bad.”
She said Jamel’s eldest sister revealed other children had told the boy to kill himself. 
BBC takes on 'bible bashers' in anti-homophobia video
Counsellors were made available to children, teachers and school staff at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School on Monday, the newspaper reported. 
In a letter sent to families, Denver Public Schools (DPS) said Jamel’s death was an "unexpected loss for our school community". 
The note said: "Our goal is to partner with you in sharing this news with your child in the most appropriate way possible, with as much support as may be needed, so please feel free to reach out about how you want to handle this."
Ms Pierce said that over the summer, Jamel told her he was gay while curled up in the back seat of the family car.
“He was scared because he is a boy and it’s harder on boys when they come out,” Ms Pierce said. “I smiled at him and said I still loved him. This world is missing out.”
She added: “I’m dead inside. He was beautiful. He was magic. I lost my greatest gift.”
For confidential support call Samaritans on 116 123.
In the US, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for free on 800-273-8255
You can also contact the following organisations for confidential support:;
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DENVER – The mother of a 9-year-old Denver boy who committed suicide last week after being bulliedwent on Facebook to ask people to help stop bullying. She had recently learned her son was gay. 
Jamel Myles, died Thursday after being taken to the hospital, according to a report from the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner.
The manner of death was suicide and did not involve a firearm, the report said.
In her public Facebook post, Leia Pierce wrote, "Please we are all the different and thats what makes us the same because we all have 1 thing in common we're all different thats what makes this world beautiful .. i want justice for my son and every kid who is bullied.. i want bullying to end i never want to hear someone else go thru this pain."
In an interview with KUSA-TV in Denver, Pierce said her son had been bullied because he was gay.
According to KDVR-TV in Denver, Myles came out to his mother as gay over the summer. 
"And he looked so scared when he told me. He was like, 'Mom I’m gay.' And I thought he was playing, so I looked back because I was driving, and he was all curled up, so scared. And I said, I still love you," Pierce said, according to KDVR. 
Pierce said Myles wanted to tell his classmates. He was a fourth grade student at Joe Shoemaker School. Classes started Aug. 20, KDVR reported. Myles died Thursday. 
Pierce also wrote in a post: "My son died because of being bullied please tell ur kids to love everyone we all need to love each other."
Shoemaker Principal Christine Fleming sent a letter to parents Friday about Myles' death.
"It is with extreme sadness we share with you that one of our fourth-grade students, passed away yesterday. This is an unexpected loss for our school community," the letter said.
The letter also says Shoemaker staff had not informed students as of Friday afternoon and that, "We are leaving the decision on how this is communicated to your child to your discretion as you know your child best."
The Denver Public School District crisis team and a school social worker were available for students Monday.
"Our thoughts are with the student’s family at this time. We will continue to process this sad news as a school community," the letter says.
On Monday afternoon, the district sent out an updated statement. In it, a spokesperson specifically says all members of the "school community are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or transgender status."
It continued with the following:
"It is critical that our students receive all the supports they need to learn and thrive in a safe and welcoming environment. Our formal policies and practices reflect this commitment to ensuring that our LGBTQ+ students can pursue their education with dignity – from policies and training to prevent and stop bullying to formal policies and guidance materials that fully respect gender identity (including use of preferred pronouns and restrooms).
"Our priority right now is to help all students and adults with the grief they are experiencing and to better understand all the facts surrounding this tragic loss."
Pierce wished she had known about the bullying Myles received.
"I lost a reason to breathe... my heart, my sunshine, my son... he was being bullied and i didnt know. Not till it was to late.. i wish i knew everything so i could've stopped this," Pierce wrote in a Facebook post.
Caitlin Hendee and Jordan Chavez, KUSA-TV, Denver
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

April 6, 2017

Surprise Win for Gay Coloradans on Hate Crime

This page is from Colorado Statesman by   
Pamela Thiele, left, and her spouse, Lauren Fortmiller, of Lakewood, Colo., Oct. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Pamela Thiele, left, and her spouse, Lauren Fortmiller, of Lakewood, Colo., Oct. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A state Senate committee packed with a conservative Republican-majority voted unanimously on Wednesday to advance a bill that would stiffen penalties for those who harass Coloradans for being gay or disabled. 
Gay rights supporters reacted with a jolt after the vote. They had braced for yet another defeat in the infamously hardline State Affairs “kill” Committee. 
“In an unexpected turn of events, the bill I’m sponsoring with Sen. Don Coram and Rep. Mike Foote to add LGBT and disabled folks to the law protecting people from harassment passed unanimously out of the Senate ‘kill’ committee today!” Sen. Dominick Moreno, a Democrat from Commerce City and a member of the LGBT legislative caucus, wrote at his Facebook page.
“Maybe you should run [more] bills with me!” wrote Coram in response. “Proud to stand with you my friend.” 
Coram is a Durango Republican and former member of the state House widely admired at the Capitol for his sure-shot ethical sense and generous affability. 
For years, conservatives in Colorado, as elsewhere, have opposed laws that specifically grant gay people civil rights protections, partly because such laws effectively place sexual preference in the same class as race, marking it out in an official way as a biological trait hardwired to a person’s identity.
In Colorado, harassment is a class 1 misdemeanor if it targets someone based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin. House Bill 1188 would include sexual orientation and physical or mental disability with those categories. 
“In the wake of [the election of Donald Trump], there has been a disturbing rise in hate crimes and violence targeting immigrants, LGBTQ community members, Muslims, and others across the country,” said Daniel Ramos, executive director of gay-rights group One Colorado, in a statement. “It’s a crucial time to make sure that the most vulnerable are protected in our state.
“We want to thank… State Senators Steve Fenberg, Lois Court, Owen Hill, Jerry Sonnenberg, and Vicki Marble for their votes today in support of LGBTQ Coloradans, our families, and people with disabilities.”

April 22, 2014

3 Gay Couples Got married in Boulder, Co. 1975

Nearly four decades before the nation’s highest court ruled in favor of gay rights activist Edie Windsor, clearing the way for federal agencies to begin recognizing same-sex marriages, another arm of the U.S. government had this to say about a lesser-known pioneering couple:
“You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.” 
That was all the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) wrote in a single-sentence green card denial to Richard Adams, a U.S. citizen, who had requested permanent residency for his Australian spouse, Anthony Sullivan. The two were among a half-dozen same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses from the Boulder County clerk’s office in 1975, well before Colorado enacted its ban on such unions. They went on to sue (and lose) in the first federal case against the U.S. government seeking recognition of a same-sex marriage – something that would not be won until the Windsor ruling of 2013. Adams did not get to see that landmark decision, however, having lost another battle – this time, to cancer – six months before.
On Monday, 39 years to the day after the two were married, Anthony Sullivan asked the Los Angeles Field Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reopen his late-husband’s petition for a marriage-based green card. The 72-year-old has lived in the shadows without lawful status for years – unable to travel outside the country, and always with the threat of deportation hanging over his head. But now, Sullivan is requesting that USCIS retroactively approve his green card application and automatically convert it to a widower’s petition, allowing him the opportunity to live out the rest of his life legally in the place he calls home.
“We want what I consider to be a dark chapter in the history of immigration services to be corrected,” said Lavi Soloway, Sullivan’s attorney and cofounder of The DOMA Project, to msnbc. In denying Adams and Sullivan’s request for a green card, “INS used an epithet that most of us would never imagine saying,” he continued. “Anthony and Richard, who were together as a couple for 41 years, didn’t deserve that. Nobody deserves to be treated that way.”
Should Sullivan be successful, it would mark a major victory to his decades-long quest for permanent residency in the United States. But it would also bring much longed-for validation to his relationship with Adams and to thousands of other same-sex couples cast aside by years of anti-gay policies, now fading into history.
“This was the first time that a gay couple walked into federal court and demanded to be treated equally under the law,” said Michael Sisitzky, staff attorney at Immigration Equality, to msnbc. “It was a really groundbreaking case. Unfortunately at the time, it did not end as well as the Windsor case did.”
Richard Adams and Anthony Sullivan, 1975. 
Photo by Pat Rocco
Last June, in United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a central provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which limited nuptials to unions between one man and one woman. Since then, eight federal judges have overturned part, or all of similar bans at the state level based on the high court’s legal reasoning. Additionally, federal agencies – including the State, Defense, Treasury, and Homeland Security Departments – have all updated their policies to begin treating every marriage equally, including those between gay couples. Public opinion has shifted dramatically, too, with a majority of Americans now in favor of the idea, according to a recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute.
Based on these trends, Sullivan’s legal team is confident their motion to reopen his green card application will be successful.
“We’re in a different time,” said Soloway. “The Supreme Court ruling last year established that the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection extends to married same-sex couples. What that means is that the constitutional rights of Richard and Anthony in 1975 were violated. Our motion today gives the administration and the country an opportunity to repudiate that denial, and those words, and the idea that you could belittle and diminish people that way.”
Still, current immigration law may continue to pose challenges for Sullivan. In the Immigration and Nationality Act, as Sisitzky explained, a surviving spouse of a U.S. citizen can proceed with their petition for permanent residency as long as that petition was pending at the time of death. In this case, the petition had already been denied when Adams passed away, meaning Sullivan’s team would first have to get it reopened before moving forward – a process that invites added discretion on part of the USCIS.
“Richard and Anthony’s case is a very clear example of what kind of impact timing has,” said Sisitzky. “Had the DOMA decision come down while Richard was still with us, he could have filed the standard kind of petition, and there wouldn’t be the uncertainty with the widower process. There are countless other families who completely uprooted themselves because they couldn’t see a future. Many families left the country, went into exile, and are now facing the prospect of having to apply for really complex waivers.”
Additionally, because less than half of the U.S. has legalized same-sex nuptials, gay binational couples face the added challenge of having to travel in order to obtain the necessary marriage certificate for a green card application. In these situations, health concerns and interior checkpoints become a problem.
“This issue is not over yet,” said Tom Miller, director of “Limited Partnership,” the forthcoming documentary about Sullivan and Adams. “In certain states, foreign partners can come in, marry, and get a green card. But in all those other states [where marriage is limited to heterosexual couples,] it’s still illegal. When the U.S. Supreme Court rules that all states should have recognition of gay marriage, then this issue will go away. That hasn’t happened yet.”

January 22, 2014

Gay marriage in Utah but What’s up in Colorado?


    More than two years ago, Colorado was at the leading edge of the societal shift on same-sex marriage, when its moderate, conflict-adverse Democratic governor called a special legislative session that shamed Republicans for holding up a civil unions bill. It was a rare example of Democrats going on the offensive on the issue.
    Now polls find a solid majority nationwide favoring gay marriage, and a series of new laws and court victories has led to 17 states permitting it. But in Colorado this year, the discussion at the statehouse revolves around a proposal to allow couples in civil unions to file state taxes jointly, as if they were married.
    The deliberate pace stems from an irony in the struggle for gay marriage -- the careful, incremental approach to the issue in places like Colorado paved the groundwork for the dramatic changes elsewhere. Indeed, Colorado gay rights supporters are not even committing yet to putting a measure on the 2016 ballot to legalize same-sex marriage.
    "We should have a good run at it and not get into something so important so quickly," state Sen. Pat Steadman, a Democrat and the author of the civil unions law, said of a ballot measure for gay marriage.
    The gay rights debate in Colorado dates back to 1992, when voters passed a measure barring any city or town from passing laws protecting gay rights. The state Supreme Court overturned that measure, but the state became nationally known as a place unfriendly to gay people. By 2006, however, it had a Democratic governor and legislature as social mores changed and coastal immigrants transformed its politics. Still, gay rights groups were unable to defeat a same-sex marriage ban initiative or pass a competing measure to legalize civil unions.
    Kenneth Upton, the Dallas-based senior counsel for Lambda Legal, said there was skepticism about a court-based challenge to Colorado's marriage ban at the time. "No one thought these cases were going to win in the middle of the country," Upton said.
    Instead, supporters spent years organizing and helping Democrats win state legislative races. Finally, last year the legislature passed the civil unions law and Gov. John Hickenlooper signed it.
    Only on Oct. 31 did a gay couple file a lawsuit challenging the 2006 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage. The existence of the civil unions law will buttress their case because they can argue they have marriage in all but name, Upton said. "It's not as heavy a lift," he said.
    The legal fate of Colorado's ban could hinge instead on recent cases in Oklahoma and Utah, where federal judges struck down similar laws, though not before more than 1,000 couples married in Utah ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court staying the ruling pending appeal. The appeals of those two cases will be heard by the 10th Circuit here, and what it rules will effectively be law in Colorado.
    Same-sex marriage supporters and detractors alike say the judicial system is more likely than the Colorado Legislature to change marriage policy in the near term. Democrats control both chambers, but a two-thirds majority is required to change the state constitution.
    "I can count votes as well as the next legislator, and I know that's not going to get through," Steadman said.
    Republicans needled him Tuesday on that point, saying the tax-filing measure Steadman sponsored belies a larger interest in changing marriage law.
    "If you have the votes to change the state constitution, then do it. But you don't," said Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch.
    Republicans fell a vote short of defeating the tax measure, which awaits a final Senate vote.
    Dave Montez, executive director of the gay rights group One Colorado, said more than marriage is at stake. It's important to have elected officials who support gay people and laws that protect the community. "There's a difference between having a marriage license and feeling comfortable enough to put a picture of your spouse on your desk," he said.
    Nicolle Martin is an attorney who argued against the civil unions law and represented a Denver baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple who were married in Massachussetts. She is no fan of Colorado's law, but prefers the way it came about to what courts are doing elsewhere.
    "I think it's a bad policy," Martin said. "But I at least respect the process."

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