Coverage for life-saving HIV/AIDS prevention drugs, elimination of prejudiced legal defense, and new process for obtaining gender-conforming birth certificates signed into law.
Denver, CO — Today, at the Center on Colfax, Governor Jared Polis signed four bills into law. The bills protect the rights of Colorado’s LGBTQ+ community by making life-saving medicine more readily available, by abolishing a prejudiced and dangerous legal defense and by making it easier for Coloradans to obtain government documents that match their gender identity.
Sponsored by Representatives Leslie Herod and Alex Valdez, HB20-1061 allows Coloradans to go directly to a pharmacy to receive either an initial treatment regimen of PrEP or a full treatment regimen of PrEP after a brief consultation with a pharmacist. The new law also prohibits insurance companies from requiring patients to obtain authorization prior to using their benefits to obtain the medications. More than 14,000 people were reported to be living with HIV in the state of Colorado, according to a 2018 report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“All Coloradans deserve access to life-saving medical care, and this new law will ensure that the most systemically underserved groups have that access,” said Rep. Herod, D-Denver. “HIV impacts the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our state, often people of color who already face systemic health disparities and barriers to getting the care they need. This law will reduce the stigma of HIV and save lives. I’m also very proud that we were able to do away with the discriminatory gay and trans panic defense today, and am so grateful to the trans women of color who brought the issue to my attention and worked tirelessly to ensure the legislature took action.”
“This law will ensure that more Coloradans can easily access life-saving HIV prevention medications,” said Rep. Valdez, D-Denver. “We can prevent more Coloradans from contracting HIV and dying from this deadly virus by simply eliminating unnecessary regulation and streamlining services for those who need it most.”
SB20-221, sponsored by Representatives Brianna Titone and Matt Soper eliminates, in practice, the use of a victim’s gender, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation as a legal defense in which the perpetrator could use ‘sudden heat of passion’ as an justification for criminal wrongdoings.
“It’s past time that we eliminated this abhorrent and dangerous legal defense in Colorado,” said Rep. Titone, D-Arvada. “By ridding our justice system of prejudiced legal defenses like this, we correct a long-standing and cruel injustice in our legal system and make Colorado a safer place for black trans women and our broader LGBTQ community.”
Sponsored by Representative Daneya Esgar, SB20-166 clarifies the legal requirements for a minor who is trying to apply for a new birth certificate. Current law specifies that the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) issue a new birth certificate with a different sex than what is on the applicant’s original birth certificate when they receice a written request from the minor’s parents or guardians, as well as a signed statement from a professional medical provider. This bill eases legal barriers by removing the requirement that the minor has undergone or is undergoing surgical, hormonal, behavioral health, or other medical or mental health treatment.
“Being true to one’s gender identity should never be limited by legal or health accessibility barriers,” said Rep. Esgar, D-Pueblo. “This law will ensure that when it comes to official government documents, Colorado recognizes and respects the gender identity of everyone in our state.”
HB20-1419, sponsored by Representatives Daneya Esgar and Lois Landgraf, creates a sustainable funding source to continue essential HIV and AIDS medical treatment programs. The law creates a new cash fund for federal rebates Colorado receives for the state’s drug assistance program, which will now be used to augment funding for the program going forward.
“This new law will help protect critical drug assistance programs for Coloradans with lower incomes who need treatment or medications for HIV/AIDS,” said Rep. Esgar, D-Pueblo. “By putting the cash rebates right back into the drug assistance program, we will help sustain the program and ensure it continues to serve Coloradans who face challenges accessing the care they need.”