The first step in the fight to stop a radical sex education bill in the Colorado legislature came to an end late Wednesday night. The House Health & Insurance Committee voted to advance the bill.
But the real story throughout the 10-hour hearing was the overwhelming turnout and opposition to the bill from the people of Colorado.
A joint effort between Family Policy Alliance and our state ally, Colorado Family Action, resulted in nearly 95,000 email messages of opposition being sent to committee members! During the hearing, legislators commented on the overwhelming volume of messages in opposition.
And the response to our joint call to attend the hearing was phenomenal. Not only was the large hearing room packed, but six overflow rooms were needed. More than 300 people signed up to testify, and the vast majority were opposed to the bill.
Stephanie Curry, an attorney and Policy Manager for Family Policy Alliance, testified at the hearing. Our close partner, Focus on the Family, also spoke against the bill, as did another ally, Centennial Institute.
“This bill would allow the state to indoctrinate children on state sexual values, while censoring others – those of parents,” Curry told the panel during her testimony. “We oppose the state’s unconstitutional attempt to take over parental rights.”
While the result is disappointing given the overwhelming opposition to the bill, it’s not shocking. That’s because this is a committee that was put together by Democrat leadership to pass liberal social bills like this one. It even included the state’s only transgender legislator, Brianna Titone.
But the enormous outpouring of opposition was powerful and noticed by all, including the media. FPA’s Curry was interviewed by multiple TV news channels, and media reports expressed amazement at citizen turnout.
Your response was truly a “shot across the bow” that will give us a fighting chance to defeat this bill at the next committee or on the floor. That next chance starts now, as the bill is headed to the House Appropriations Committee. Please take a moment to send your message to that committee today!
Thank you for making your voice heard! Please continue to do so by clicking here to send your message to the next committee, the House Appropriations Committee.
The Family Policy Alliance Team
How They Voted
If one of the members who voted for this bill is your representative, please hold them accountable.
Janet Buckner (D – Arapahoe)
Yadira Caraveo (D – Adams
Sonya Jaquez Lewis (D – Boulder)
Susan Lontine (D – Denver/Jefferson)
Chris Kennedy (D – Jefferson)
Kyle Mullica (D – Adams)
Brianna Titone (D – Jefferson)
Mark Baisley (R – Douglas/Teller)
Susan Beckman (R – Arapahoe)
Marc Catlin (R – Dolores/Montezuma/Montrose/San Miguel)
Matt Soper (R- Delta/Mesa)
By Stephanie Curry, Policy Manager
What do Bermuda, California, and Colorado have in common?
Even though the media didn’t really cover them, three recent stories were big victories for families—coming from three very different parts of the world.
Last week, Bermuda became the first country in the world to repeal same-sex marriage. Although Bermuda’s Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last May, the overwhelming majority of Bermudians opposed it. The legislature—the branch of government that should be enacting (or rejecting) laws, not the courts—responded by repealing the judgment! This should stand as a great encouragement and reminder to Americans that the people we elect into office do have the power to uphold the beliefs of the people, even if that means changing the law or fixing a court’s bad decision.
In a surprising show from the California Superior Court, Judge David Lampe ruled that Tastries Bakery could decline to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony. Judge Lampe ruled, “The right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment outweighs the State’s interest in ensuring a freely accessible marketplace. . . The right of freedom of thought guaranteed by the First Amendment includes the right to speak, and the right to refrain from speaking. Sometimes the most profound protest is silence.” If the creation of a wedding cake is a form of speech, silence—declining to create the cake—is just as much a protected right under the First Amendment. Judge Lampe even wrote that the creation of a wedding cake is one of the greatest symbolic expressions in our culture and should be adamantly protected.
Finally, in Colorado, a Joint Budget Committee decided to defund the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Normally, a Senate budget committee decision would be about as exciting as waiting in line at the DMV, but this decision actually is exciting—and matters to families in Colorado and across the country.
You may remember the infamous Colorado Commission from its involvement in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, now at the Supreme Court. The Colorado Commission said that Jack, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, had to design custom wedding cakes for same-sex weddings (regardless of his religious or moral beliefs) or else give up that large portion of his business altogether. The Commission’s decision forced Jack to take his case to courts.
The Supreme Court will likely release its decision in June, and the Court will decide the same question Judge Lampe just decided in California, “Can a baker be forced to create a wedding cake?” We hope and pray that the Supreme Court agrees with Judge Lamp in California and upholds artistic expression as a fundamentally protected right.
So, the Colorado Budget Committee’s decision to cut funding from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission because of how they targeted Jack and his faith is great news! The members of the Budget Committee are elected by Coloradans to represent Coloradans, and Colorado families believe that what the Commission did to Jack was wrong. Thankfully, these Colorado legislators listened to the voice of Colorado families who are fed up with our First Amendment freedoms being trampled. With a vote to strip the Colorado Civil Rights Commission of its funding, Colorado sent a loud and clear message: freedom of religion and freedom of speech are worth protecting.
We hope this “Bermuda Triangle” of great news encourages you as the family of believers. The work of restoring a nation where God is honored is hard work, and the results don’t happen overnight. But, it is work believers are each called to with a unique role to play, and as you can see, partnering together to protect and advance our basic freedoms—life, religion, speech—does make an impact.
Attorney Alicia Berry, who formerly represented a florist in a religious freedom case, has announced she’s running for Superior Court Judge in Position 3 in Washington state. The seat is currently held by a judge who ruled against religious freedom.
In 2013, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Barronelle Stutzman and her business after she declined to create custom arrangements for a longtime customer’s same-sex wedding.
Judge Alexander Ekstrom ruled in favor of the government. Since Stutzman was sued in a personal and professional capacity, she is in danger of losing her business and her home if she is unsuccessful in her appeal.
“Religious motivation does not excuse compliance with the law,” Ekstrom wrote.
The Washington Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case. Berry said people have lost trust in the judicial system.
“This loss of trust in a fundamental government system,” she said in a statement, “designed to protect the people from oppressive government oversight and regulation needs to be addressed.”
Family advocates are likely to make some big gains in state legislatures in 2016.
Family advocates are likely to make some big gains in state legislatures in 2016. At the same time, harmful legislation is threatening families and biblical values in other states.
That puts CitizenLink and our Family Policy Alliance in the center of the action. Here’s a look at the battles that will be decided over the coming weeks and months.
Thanks to political gains in state legislatures in recent elections—made possible through your support of CitizenLink—a number of states stand ready to pass important pro-family measures.
Prospects are especially strong for passing pro-life bills. Following the release of the Planned Parenthood videos last summer, some states, such as Wisconsin, are working to stop taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. Others are working to ensure that aborted babies are handled humanely, which helps focus attention on the humanity of each preborn baby.
With the growing attacks on religious freedom, CitizenLink and our state family policy allies are also advancing religious liberty protections. Some, such as in West Virginia, would give broad religious freedom safeguards, while others provide very specific protections. With a strong lobbying effort, several have a good chance of passing.
The bulk of the Left’s attacks at the state level are coming in two areas. First, the homosexual lobby is pushing hard to advance their agenda even further, following the Obergefell same-sex marriage decision. At the top of their agenda is forcing more states—among them Idaho—to give special protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These laws are at the cutting edge in the assault on religious freedom. Gay activists are also looking to ban counseling that would help lead minors away from homosexuality. Similar bills have already been signed by Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey and in three other states, with Massachusetts among several targets this year.
Meanwhile, euthanasia zealots are trying to build momentum off of their lone victory last year—an assisted suicide bill that had to be rammed through a special session to get it passed in California. CitizenLink and our state allies are part of a strong and diverse coalition that is looking to build on last year’s successes in exposing and defeating these threats to the sanctity of life. Dozens of such bills could be introduced this year, with New York and Maryland facing especially tough battles.