Most Colorado Democratic lawmakers shot down a bill on the House floor on Saturday that would increase criminal penalties for indecent exposure in front of a minor to a felony.
One of the 27 Democratic lawmakers who voted against the measure claimed that, if passed, the legislation could be "used to ban drag shows" and "target" transgender individuals.
Under current Colorado law, a first offense of indecent exposure is a class one misdemeanor. The proposed bill, HB23-1135, titled "Penalty For Indecent Exposure In View Of Minors," would increase the penalty for indecent exposure in front of a minor to a class 6 felony.
Despite the bill being introduced to the state House by Democratic Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Shannon Bird, 27 members of the party voted against the measure while Republicans unanimously supported the bill.
On Saturday, Democratic Representative Leslie Herod accused the bill of attempting to "target" transgender individuals and shut down drag shows.
"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. I'm very concerned about the attacks against the transgender community that are happening across the country," Herod claimed.
"When I initially read this bill, it did not even come to mind for me, either, as an advocate—but as I've looked at the bills, and as I've talked to my colleagues who are fighting these types of bills across the country, it's very clear to me that 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," she added.
In response to Herod, Bird argued that the bill received no pushback from local LGBT+ organizations.
Bird stated that the legislation "is about protecting children, making sure that any sex crime against a child is punished."
"There is no intent to harm any member of any community," Bird added.
According to Deputy Chief of Staff for the Colorado House Republicans Roger Hudson, during a previous reading of the bill, Democratic lawmakers filibustered against the measure for almost three hours.
Despite the opposition, the legislation passed with amendments.
Over the weekend, Bird posted on Twitter announcing the passage of the legislation.
"In Colorado, we protect children. Yesterday we passed my bill to hold adults appropriately accountable when they expose themselves [or] masturbate in front of children. This is the only sex crime against kids that is not a felony. Our bill will change that," Bird wrote.
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