Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.

Statewide CO Marriage Campaign Recognizes One-Year Civil Unions Anniversary, Renews Call for Full Equality

WhyMM logo w ACLU

May 1, 2014

DENVER – Why Marriage Matters Colorado, the broad coalition working to secure the freedom to marry for all committed couples, today recognized the one-year anniversary of the enactment of Colorado’s civil unions law, which went into effect on May 1, 2013. This milestone comes on the heels of oral arguments for the Utah and Oklahoma marriage cases before the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Denver. The outcome in those cases could bring the freedom to marry to Colorado.

“While we applaud this anniversary as Colorado’s first step in protecting all families, we also knew that civil unions were just that – an important first step,” said Dave Montez, Executive Director of One Colorado, one of the lead organizations of Why Marriage Matters Colorado, along with ACLU of Colorado and Freedom to Marry. “With 61% of Coloradans behind the freedom to marry, we know that people understand that nothing compares to marriage in protecting couples and their families.”

Montez went on to cite the U.S. Supreme Court’s Windsor decision last June that provided federal recognition of married gay and lesbian couples. While not specifically addressing marriage nationwide, the decision nonetheless has led to several federal court rulings that found denying committed couples the freedom to marry is unconstitutional. Seventeen states plus Washington, D.C. now have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

“When civil unions took effect last May, we knew this law would extend many key protections to families like ours and that it was an important move forward,” said Sarah Musick, who entered into a civil union with her partner Erika in Colorado Springs last year. “However, there’s no substitute for marriage, which guarantees that we can be there for each other and our family during times of greatest need. Like thousands of other couples across our state, we simply want to be able to make a lifetime commitment to each other and be responsible for one another – in front of our own friends and family, here in the state we call home.”

“One year ago, I had the honor of officiating about a dozen civil union ceremonies the night this law first took effect in Colorado,” said Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Executive Director of ACLU of Colorado. “I will never forget the faces, the emotions, the joy. But civil unions are still not marriage. As an ordained minister, I look forward to having the ability to marry loving, committed couples who belong together and deserve full equality under the law.”

Why Marriage Matters Colorado is broadening the dialogue with Coloradans about why marriage is important to same-sex couples and their families and why it is consistent with the values of liberty and freedom. More information on this statewide initiative – which is being spearheaded by leading statewide LGBT advocacy group One Colorado, ACLU of Colorado, and Freedom to Marry – can be found here:

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