Colorado’s Dangerous “Religious Freedom” Bill Dies

Image by nick1803/Getty Images

Image by nick1803/Getty Images

On Wednesday, a Colorado House committee voted to kill HB 1013, a state Religious Freedom Restoration Bill (RFRA) that was aimed at permitting businesses to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against people, particularly LGBTQ individuals and families. 

The sweeping bill could have created a religious exception to every single existing and future state and local law in Colorado, including criminal laws, such as laws against child abuse and domestic violence; laws protecting public health; and state and local nondiscrimination laws. Corporations and individuals could have challenged any law they claimed burdened their religion— even if the burden was very minor.

“At its core, the premise of this bill is to allow people to use religion to ignore laws they don’t want to follow,” said Kelly Brough, president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, told the House committee. Pastor Jasper Peters of Denver's Trinity United Methodist Church, who also testified in opposition to the bill, concurred.

“This bill is a thinly veiled attempt to make tolerable that which is not tolerable,” he said.

Many Coloradans agree. According to one study of Colorado small business owners, "65% of Colorado small business owners believe business owners should not be allowed to deny services to LGBT individuals based on the owner’s religious beliefs.”

HB 1013 is the third RFRA bill in three consecutive years to die in the legislature. Colorado politicians should save themselves some trouble and listen to their constituents: religion is no excuse to discriminate.

Now that Colorado's RFRA legislation is out of the picture, there are currently four RFRA bills in state legislatures across the country. You can follow these and other "religious freedom" bills on our 2017 State Legislation Tracker