Colorado Rights Blog


  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at

  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 


Immigrants Unjustifiably Denied Marriage Licenses, ACLU Charges

April 2, 2001

Immigrants seeking marriage licenses in Colorado have endured unreasonable and unjustified discrimination that violates Colorado law and the United States Constitution, according to a letter sent by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Colorado (ACLU) to each of Colorado's 64 county clerks and recorders.

The application forms for marriage licenses, which are submitted to county clerks and recorders, ask for the social security numbers of both parties to the marriage. Some immigrants, however, especially undocumented immigrants, do not have social security numbers.

"The ACLU continues to receive complaints that county clerks and recorders are denying applications for marriage licenses when one or both parties to the marriage does not have a social security number," said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director.

Although the practice primarily affects immigrants, Silverstein pointed out that "in many cases United States citizens have been denied a marriage license simply because their fiancé has no social security number."

"Individuals have the right to marry whether they have social security numbers or not," Silverstein said. "The right to marry without unreasonable interference from the state is a fundamental constitutional right that applies to all persons in this country, citizens as well as undocumented immigrants."

The ACLU charged that county clerks and recorders are unjustifiably singling out and discriminating against undocumented immigrants and their loved ones. "County clerks and recorders are willing to issue marriage licenses when legal immigrants do not happen to have a social security number," Silverstein said. "But when an undocumented immigrant has no social security number, the marriage license is denied. That kind of discrimination violates the Constitution."

The ACLU acknowledges that individuals who do have social security numbers are required to provide those numbers on the application forms. But applicants who have no social security number should be permitted to submit affidavits to that effect, the ACLU says, and should still get the marriage license. A law passed by the Colorado legislature in 2000 makes it clear that such an affidavit is sufficient, according to the ACLU's letter.

"The new statute makes it crystal clear that the Colorado legislature does not intend that individuals be denied marriage licenses simply because they have no social security number," Silverstein said. "But it appears that county clerks and recorders are not yet aware of the new statute or its significance."

In its letter, the ACLU asked each county clerk and recorder to "take immediate steps to ensure that the lack of a social security number no longer prevents individuals from obtaining marriage licenses, regardless of their immigration status."

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