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Religious Freedom Bill Fails For Third Straight Year

Bente Birkeland
Capitol Coverage
Rep. Daneya Esgar (D- Pueblo), a member of the Colorado LGBT Caucus speaks out against the bill.

After a lengthy hearing dominated by religious groups, churches and members of the LGBT community, a proposal that would create a religious freedom exemption bill in Colorado was defeated.

Supporters of HB 17-1013, the Free Exercise of Religion Bill, say people need to be able to live according to their deepest religious convictions and that someone should not be forced to offer services or participate in something like a same-sex wedding.

“There is always a religious conviction that is tied with this action,” said Theresa Sidebotham, an attorney at a Telios law who came out to testify in support of the proposal.  

Similar measures have been introduced and defeated over the past two legislative sessions after facing strong opposition from Democrats.

“The overwhelming majority of Coloradans have stated again and again that they don’t believe in this kind of discrimination,” said Rep. Daneya Esgar (D- Pueblo), a member of the Colorado LGBT Caucus.

HB 17-1013  failed to pass out of the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. While Esgar doesn’t sit on that committee, she spoke out against the measure. She said it would hurt businesses, economic development and tourism.

“People don’t want to go somewhere, where they feel like they could be discriminated against for any reason,” Esgar said. “And that’s what this bill does, for any reason.”