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. 

Prepared Testimony of ACLU of Colorado in Support of Birth Certificate Modernization Act

March 26, 2015

Today, the Colorado House Committee on Health, Insurance, and Environment heard testimony on HB 1265, the Birth Certificate Modernization Act, which would enable transgender individuals to more easily change their birth certificates to reflect their identified gender.  ACLU of Colorado Policy and Outreach Associate Sarah Spears testified in support of the bill. Below is her prepared testimony. For more information on the importance of HB 1265, please see the Birth Certificate Modernization Act Fact Sheet.

Thank you Madame Chair and members of the committee.

My name is Sarah Spears and I am here on behalf of the ACLU of Colorado as Policy and Outreach Associate. The ACLU is a not for profit, non-partisan organization with approximately 10,000 members statewide.

The ACLU strongly supports HB-1265, which sets medically appropriate guidelines for changing the gender designation on one’s birth certificate and helps to ensure fairness for the transgender community.

The current method for changing the gender designation on one’s birth certificate is outdated.

It is out of line with the current medical consensus that surgery is not appropriate or necessary for every transgender person.

Contrary to common misconception, many transgender people do not want surgery, and even among those for whom surgery is desired, many cannot receive it because such care is prohibitively expensive, not covered by their insurance, appropriate providers are not available, or they have a medical condition that prevents them from undergoing the medical procedure.

Colorado’s surgical requirement is unduly restrictive and prevents many transgender individuals from obtaining consistent legal identity documents. This can have a serious impact on issues related to employment, education, travel, and safety. Individuals who are unable to receive documents that match their gender identity and presentation face increased discrimination and are unfairly robbed of their privacy. Under current law, if asked to present a birth certificate, a transgender person who has undergone full transition but has not opted for surgical change, is forced to out themselves to a potential employer, school administrators, and more.

Transgender people with incongruent identity documents frequently experience violence and discrimination. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 40% of transgender people with incongruent documents experienced harassment.

Many other states and federal agencies have already changed their laws and policies to allow for the changes proposed by HB-1265. California, New York State, New York City, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, Vermont, and the District of Columbia, along with the U.S. Department of State and the Social Security Administration, have already adopted standards comparable to the proposed bill requirements to ensure that transgender individuals can obtain accurate identification without proof of surgery.

HB-1265 will bring Colorado in line with the medical community’s understanding of gender transition, it will ease unnecessary financial and social burdens faced by transgender Coloradans and will further demonstrate Colorado’s commitment to ensuring respect and fairness for the transgender community.

I urge a yes vote on House Bill 1265.

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