Colorado Gov. Jared Polis Signs Pro-Equality Legislation into Law

by Nick Morrow

Nation’s first openly gay man elected governor signs bills to protect LGBTQ youth from dangerous practice of “conversion therapy” and to simplify updating one’s gender marker.

Today, HRC celebrates Colorado Governor Jared Polis signing into law HB 1129, which protects LGBTQ youth from the dangerous practice of so-called “conversion therapy,” and HB 1039, which removes a restrictive and unnecessary surgical requirement for updating birth certificate gender markers and allows for a non-binary gender marker option. Polis is the nation’s first openly gay man to be elected governor. Colorado is now the 18th state to protect youth from this egregious practice; Maine’s governor signed similar legislation earlier this week.

 “Today, we witnessed the nation’s first openly gay man elected governor, Gov. Jared Polis, sign into law two pro-equality pieces of legislation, including a bill that protects LGBTQ youth in the state from the dangerous, debunked practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy,’” says HRC President Chad Griffin. “Governor Polis has been a trailblazing champion for LGBTQ rights and representation, both in Colorado and for LGBTQ people across the nation. While there is much work to be done to ensure that all of us are treated equally under the law, this is a great day for progress -- for Colorado and for our community.”

 California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this harmful practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including at least fifty cities and counties in Arizona, Florida, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin.

There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The harmful practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

 Transgender and non-binary people with incongruent identity documents frequently experience violence and discrimination. Colorado law previously contained the unnecessary and discriminatory requirement that transgender residents undergo surgery before they were allowed to update the gender marker on their birth certificate to align with their gender identity. HB 1039 removes this harmful restriction and allows transgender residents to update their birth certificate gender marker based on self-attestation. Additionally, this law creates a non-binary gender marker option that allows non-binary residents to have their gender accurately reflected on their birth certificates.

HRC has partnered with LGBTQ advocates across the state including One Colorado to advance pro-equality legislation in Colorado. HRC has also partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the Trevor Project and state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation protecting youth from conversion therapy. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.