A majority of Colorado Democrats in the state House voted against a measure that would enhance criminal penalties for indecent exposure in view of a minor, and one state lawmaker claimed the bill could be used to “ban” drag shows and harm transgender people.
Outlining her frustrations with the measure from the House floor Saturday, state Rep. Leslie Herod, a Democrat who has represented a Denver-area district in the state House since 2017, said the proposed law uses language like other measures around the nation meant to “target” transgender people.
“These types of laws have been used to ban drag shows, to target individuals who use the restroom — the sex they identify with, a public restroom — to charge them with felony charges,” Herod claimed. “I’m very concerned about the attacks against the transgender community that are happening across the country.”
Introduced by Democrats, HB23-1135 would take criminal penalties for indecent exposure from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony if committed in view of a person who is under 18. The measure passed with unanimous Republican support despite 27 of the 46 Democratic representatives voting against the bill.
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“When I initially read this bill, it did not even come to mind for me either, as an advocate,” said Herod, who made an unsuccessful bid in the Denver mayoral race earlier this year. “But as I’ve looked at the bills and I’ve talked to my colleagues who are fighting these types of bills across the country, it is very clear to me the language is very much mirrored in some of the laws that have been used to target members of our community because of who they are.”
Democratic representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Shannon Bird introduced the bill in the state House, and Democrat Sen. Rachel Zenzinger and Republican Sen. Jim Smallwood led the Senate version of the measure.
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After Herod stated her opposition to the bill, Bird noted that none of the LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations in Colorado were concerned about the bill, adding that every district attorney in the state backed the measure.
“There is no intent to harm any member of any community,” Bird said, adding that the proposed measure “is about protecting children, making sure that any sex crime against a child is punished.”
A tweet from the Colorado House Republican Caucus took aim at the 27 Democrats who voted against the measure, highlighting Herod’s remarks from the floor.
“A Democrat attacked the bill for ‘targeting’ the transgender community in her dissent,” the GOP caucus wrote.
The bill, according to its fiscal note shared online, would “increase state revenue from criminal fines and court fees by a minimal amount beginning in fiscal year 2023-24, credited to the Fines Collection Cash Fund, various other cash funds in the Judicial Department, and the General Fund.
“The fine penalty for a class 6 felony is $1,000 to $100,000 and $500-$1,000 for a class 1 misdemeanor.”
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