Denver recently received a 100 (a perfect score) from the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI). From non-discrimination laws, to municipal services, to fair enforcement of laws, to the relationship the city has with the LGBTQ community, Denver has aced it. It hasn’t always been this way, and there’s been a long road to get to this point, and regardless of the score, it’s still not perfect (for example, the Colorado Senate has blocked a ban on conversion therapy for minors 3 times in the past 3 years), but for the most part Denver has become a great place for LGBTQ folks (and their families!) to settle.
In July 2014, a ban against same sex marriages (implemented in 2000 by Governor Ritter) was finally struck down, and the state as a whole began issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples by the end of the year. Obergefell, the Supreme Court decision that confirmed that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples, came a year later.
In terms of adoptions, Colorado law offers adoptions to same sex couples, single persons, and second parent adoptions (though religious agencies do not necessarily follow those guidelines). The judiciary here is gay friendly (and surrogacy friendly!) and a pre-birth order (PBO) can be filed on behalf of same sex intended parents, single intended parents, and different sex intended parents.
Despite all the forward legislative movement, and an arguably very open and inclusive social community in bigger cities in Colorado, there are still major civil rights cases to be fought. You may have heard that today the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Committee. Do you remember this story? In 2012, a gay couple went to a cake shop in Lakewood, Colorado to order a cake for their upcoming wedding celebration. The owner of the cake shop stated it was the store’s policy to deny service to customers celebrating a same-sex marriage because it went against the religious beliefs of the storeowner.
The Colorado Civil Rights Committee ruled in favor of the gay couple in 2014 . You see, Colorado has a clear statute pertaining to discrimination of this kind and prohibits public accommodations (any place that provides service to the general public, like a cake shop) from discriminating based on perceived or actual sexual orientation (and other protected designations). The cake shop owner’s issue is whether this law violates his First Amendment rights. Many of us in Denver are following carefully, and hoping that justice is served in this case in order to reflect the ideal of equality and inclusion so important to Colorado and to the United States.
While there are still notable problems, Colorado and its citizens, from LGBTQ folks to cis-gendered hetero folks (and everyone in between) have worked hard for legislative equality and also towards social equality. Hopefully, the work that all Coloradans have done together over the past few years continues, and we can continue to lead the country in inclusiveness and acceptance. The gears of change are slow, and Colorado is not perfect by a long run, but we as Coloradans are happy to be on the right side of history, and are also happy to benefit from the full participation of our LGBTQ siblings in all aspects of life here in Colorado.
If you’re interested in starting a family in Colorado, or using a surrogate from Colorado to help start that family, we’d love to hear from you!