We at the ACLU of Colorado are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and Board member, Carrie Ann Lucas, who died Sunday at the age of 47. Carrie Ann was a teacher, an ordained minister and an attorney who championed representation for parents with disabilities. Her fierce advocacy for disability justice and health care reform had impact across Colorado and nationwide, and her personal life exemplified her values. While living with a severe neuromuscular disease she adopted four children who also had disabilities, and she made sure that they were not only educated and included in their communities, but also loved, respected, and supported as individuals.
Carrie Ann came to the ACLU at the recommendation of long-time national ACLU Board member Tim Fox at the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC). Carrie Ann had a powerful history of activism with multiple organizations, as an advocate and legal assistant for the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, founder of Disabled Parents Rights, and most recently as Staff Attorney and Case Strategies Director for the Colorado Office of Respondent Parents Counsel. She was an advocate for Not Dead Yet and ADAPT, and she gained national attention during ADAPT’s sit in at Senator Cory Gardner’s office, helping turn public opinion against repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Last year, Carrie Ann was a leader in the passage of House Bill 18-1104, which changed Colorado law to ensure that disability was no longer a reason to remove a child from the home. Carrie Ann was a Chancellor’s Scholar at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and she was a recipient of the Equal Justice Works fellowship, the Petra Foundation fellowship, and the Intersectionality Award recipient from CREEC.
As an ACLU board member, Carrie Ann brought her lived experience and a passion for justice that enhanced our own awareness and commitment to disability rights. Other civil liberties issues intersect with disability rights in complex ways, and Carrie Ann brought important insight in those cases. Access issues are everywhere for people with disabilities, and nowhere more so than in the criminal justice system, where a high percentage of people in prisons and jails have some type of disability, but access and adequate care are rare. The ACLU of Colorado was proud to win curative treatment for hepatitis C for all prisoners, not just those who had reached a point of severe physical damage. Carrie Ann’s own struggle to receive comprehensive healthcare reminds us of how deep the consequences can be of inadequate access and opportunity. We deeply miss Carrie Ann, and will honor her legacy by continuing to support the causes to which she dedicated her life.