Republicans might force change to Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission

DENVER -- Hundreds gathered on the west steps of the state Capitol on Tuesday to support the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

The future of the commission recently came into doubt when some Republicans voted to temporarily defund the body until possible changes can be looked at.

Democrats have viewed that as an attack on equality.

“When there are attacks on our rights the people will show and the people will be heard,” House Speaker Crisanta Duran told the crowd.

Supporters said the group does more than just investigate religious or gay rights complaints -- even though the landmark involvement in the Masterpiece Cake Shop Supreme Court Case is perhaps the commission’s most notable.

“We recently had a case where a gentlemen wanted to rent an apartment because a landlord flat out told him he couldn’t because he had a stutter and had tremors in his hands,” Randy Kilborn said.

But state Republicans want to make clear they do not want to get rid of the commission.

“We are committed to the reauthorization of the Civil Rights Commission,” Republican State Sen. Bob Gardner said.

“I believe the make up of the commission is not balanced right now.”

Gardner said he wants to look at the commission's role in Colorado government out of concerns it might have too much power.

Gardner also expressed concern that the governor shouldn’t be the only one allowed to appoint members to the commission.

Gov. John Hickenlooper seemed to suggest the status quo is working.

“There is a nonpartisan sunset report and the report says it is working pretty well the way it is,” Hickenlooper said.

Various committees are expected to hold hearings on the topic in the weeks to come. A hearing was held Tuesday but no vote was expected.

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