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State lawmakers defeat controversial religious freedom bill

DENVER, Colo. - House democrats on the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee killed a controversial religious freedom bill.

Opponents of the bill say it would have allowed people and businesses to ignore certain laws they feel go against their religion such as domestic violence, public safety and non-discrimination laws. After four hours of debate, it was defeated 6-3.

HB17-1013 was sponsored by Rep. Dave Williams, (R) Colorado Springs and Rep. Stephen Humphrey, (R) Severance.

Proponents of the measure say it would have protected religious expression.

"The right to practice and profess your religion and faith is a fundamental right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. As a private citizen and as a public official, I cherish that right. But that right cannot carelessly trump the rule of law,” said Denver District Attorney, Beth McCann. “The issue is simple, but proponents of this legislation seek to complicate and confuse: If you choose to provide public services, you cannot deny those services because you don’t like someone’s color of their skin, their national origin, their sex, or their sexual identity.”

However, Democrats say it would have legalized discrimination.  

 “Coloradans know this isn’t right and Coloradans know this isn’t fair,” said Rep. Daneya Esgar, (D) Pueblo, prior to the committee hearing at a noon press conference hosted by organizations against the bill. “And thankfully here at this capitol, we have a majority of people who stand with us to defeat bills like this or any others that try to make discrimination legal or try to make anyone feel like they are not equal.” 

Similar bills have been introduced for the last three years.  

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