HB-1256, SUNSET CONTINUE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION AND COMMISSION

 

03-19-2018

ATTENTION:
Rep. Crisanta Duran (D)
Sen. Robert Gardner (R)

RE: HB-1256, SUNSET CONTINUE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION AND COMMISSION

Dear Honorable Representatives:

The legislation addressing HB 18-1256 (Also known as the ‘Sunset bill’), continues the state’s Civil Rights Division and Civil Rights Commission in the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), which are scheduled to repeal on July 1, 2018. State fiscal impacts under the bill include only the continuation of the program’s current expenditures. The program is continued through September 1, 2027.

The Colorado Civil Rights Division in DORA enforces Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations, and provides training to groups and individuals throughout Colorado. The division receives funding through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development/Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. It formal cooperative agreements with these federal agencies avoid duplication of efforts on cases where joint jurisdiction exists. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission is a seven-member board that develops policy and conducts hearings regarding illegal discriminatory practices. Board members may receive per diem and reimbursement costs for their work on the board, which typically costs less than $5,000 per year.

Based on the department’s FY 2018-19 budget request, the Department of Regulatory Agencies is expected to have expenditures of $2,139,332 and 27.2 FTE to administer the Civil Rights Division and Commission. If this bill is enacted, current expenditures will continue for the program starting in FY 2019-20. If this bill is not enacted, the program will end on July 1, 2019, following a wind-down period, and state expenditures will decrease starting in FY 2019-20. The bill takes effect July 1, 2018.

HB 18-1256 is of paramount interest to me because I am a person that relies on the protections afforded to me through the state’s hate crimes laws. HB 18-1256 will enable the Colorado Civil Rights Divisions and Civil Right Commission, the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), to continue to provided protection based on both sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (since 2001).

This issue directly impacts my daily life as an Intersexed/Transgender Colorado resident. I have experienced discrimination in housing, when my HOA President (where I lived in from 2002 – 2012), made the following remarks:

HOA President: ‘I can see why your partner left you. If my husband did what you are doing, I’d divorce him and we have been married for over 30-years.’

Anshel Bomberger: ‘That tells me you are only interested in his genitals and not his soul.’

Further…

HOA President: “Real ‘men’ shovel the walk this way…’

Anshel Bomberger: ‘Really, is that why you are here and your husband is somewhere else?’

I was repeatedly a target for discrimination based on this HOA President calling out persons she didn’t like, in the form of HOA Violations and threats of foreclosure. It was a drought that Summer and Fall, and my lawn was replaced four times based on those threats of violation and foreclosure. I watered, yet, I would receive notices of violation from the HOA President, while they allowed other homeowners to xeriscape their lawns. At the same time, I was receiving notices from the City of Aurora, expecting me to take watering classes. I was watering too much. Based on this HOA President abusing her power through hate crime sort of language and intolerance of my situation, I turned this matter over to DORA. This HOA President was put under the microscope for Bias Motivated Harassment (C.R.S. § 18-9-111, Colorado’s Criminal Harassment Law). I sold my home in 2012 (for $100,000 less than I paid for it) in order to get out from under this woman’s control. I moved to Georgetown, CO and have not had a problem at all. I didn’t stay long enough to find out the outcome. I do know this… no one should have to go through what I went through to just live.

I am concerned about funding for the Civil Rights Division and Civil Rights Commission in the Department of Regulatory Agencies funding. Should these agencies be given less finances to operate effectively, LGBTQ persons will suffer.

There are both federal and state laws that protect victims of hate crimes. Colorado law breaks hate crimes into two categories, ‘Bias Motivated Harassment’ and ‘Bias Motivated Crime.’

Bias Motivated Harassment (C.R.S. § 18-9-111, Colorado’s Criminal Harassment Law):

Bias-motivated harassment is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A person commits bias-motivated harassment if, with the intent to harass another person because of that person’s actual or race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation (including intersexed and transgender status), he or she:

– Strikes/shoves/kicks/otherwise touches another;
– Directs obscene language or makes obscene gesture in public;
– Follows a person in or about a public place;
– Initiates communications intended to harass or threaten bodily injury or property damage by telephone, computer network, etc.;
– Makes repeated telephone calls with no purpose of legitimate conversation;
– Makes repeated communications at inconvenient hours;
– Makes repeated insults/taunts/challenges likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response.

Bias Motivated Crime (C.R.S. § 18-9-121):

Bias-motivated crime can be charged as a misdemeanor (for threats or damage to property) or as a felony (for cases involving bodily injury). A person commits a bias-motivated crime if, with the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation (including intersexed and transgender status), he or she:

– Knowingly causes bodily injury to another person;
– By words or conduct, knowingly places another person in fear of imminent lawless action directed at that person or that person’s property and such words or conduct are likely to produce bodily injury to that person or damage to that person’s property;
– Knowingly causes damage to or destruction of the property of another person.

Colorado’s transgender-inclusive law was successfully used for the first time in 2009 in the murder case of Angie Zapata, a transgender Coloradoan who was brutally murdered by Allen Ray Andrade. Andrade was found guilty of first-degree murder, hate crimes, and theft and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

I am concerned about funding for the Civil Rights Division and Civil Rights Commission in the Department of Regulatory Agencies funding, should these agencies be given less finances to operate effectively, LGBTQ persons will suffer.
– Losing a valued employee can cost an employer thousands;
– Recruiting and training a new hire costs thousands;
– Do you know that if you can make an employee more productive for just 10 minutes a week, it will have a larger impact on an agencies’ bottom line than reducing the size of their office space by 25%?
– Couple that with the fact that poor employee health can rob a company of the equivalent of between 20%-50% of salaries, and together you have a pretty compelling business case for wellness and well-being programs.
The term ‘wellness’ relates to physical health. ‘Well-being’ includes wellness, but encompasses the whole person–mind as well as body.
– Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs shows nicely how work and place relate to wellness and wellbeing.
Lighting, noise, temperature, and ergonomics are at the bottom of the hierarchy: they’re the wellness issues. If your office is freezing and your chair is killing your back, you’re probably not going to be thinking very well about the role you play in the organization’s mission. You’re going to be looking for a sweater and taking time off for physical therapy appointments. You’re going to be focused on just getting through the day. So unless your wellness needs are met, you can’t move on to the kinds of things that create well-­being.
– One of the other things we know about Maslow’s hierarchy, is that while not having your physiological or safety needs met creates dissatisfaction, having them met doesn’t necessarily create satisfaction. The same is true in the workplace—think noise, aesthetics—accommodating them doesn’t create satisfaction. So you have to wonder what the ‘sweet spot’ for satisfying those needs when you’re budgeting for office space (due to a reduction in staff, all because the funding has changed).

(Source: http://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/wellbeing, accessed: 03-19-2018).

The bottom-line is this… less funding, less employees, an overburdened system.

I do not want to learn that LGBTQ+ protections fell through the cracks and something horrible takes place regarding one more LGBTQ+ person.

If Coloradoans learn that the funding for DORA has changed and LGBTQ+ persons are not protected adequately, (because of a flawed system), LGBTQ+ persons will continue to be harassed. There will not be an adequate system in place to enforce these harassment laws. We will be left to fend for ourselves.

Matthew Shepard became the victim of one of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes in the nation’s history, and his parents, Judy and Dennis, dedicated their lives to strengthening hate crimes law and raising awareness of the violence the LGBTQ+ community faced. In October 2009, the Shepards’ joined President Barack Obama as he signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. It expanded prior federal hate crimes law to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Shepard-Byrd Act was a historic victory, but it was merely one milestone of many needed to comprehensively address hate crimes. Reporting of these crimes by law enforcement agencies is still only voluntary, and dozens of them fail to report at all every year. There is also still a significant lack of inclusive hate crimes laws at the state level, where the vast majority of such crimes are prosecuted.

(Source: http://www.matthewshepard.org, accessed: 03-19-2018)

Please don’t think for an instant LGBTQ+ lives don’t affect you, your family, or the community at large. We are in your churches and other faith organizations. We are in your check out lanes. We are in the schools that educate our future leaders. Most importantly, LGBTQ+ persons vote.

Thank you for your consideration of my viewpoint on this matter. I believe it is an important issue, and would like to see the legislation ensure effective funding in order for DORA agencies to remain in place to protect all LGBTQ+ and other protected groups in Colorado from hate. Discrimination has no place in Colorado.

Sincerely,

 

Anshel Bomberger
1015 Griffith Street
Georgetown, CO 80444-1126
Clear Creek County
anshelsbomberger@gmail.com

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