It's not an accident, says Jeff Hunt, the vice president of public policy and the director of Centennial Institute* at Colorado Christian University. He points to three bills signed by Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis last week, among which is one that has been dubbed "Transgender Tourism."
Some states that have outlawed abortion and gender-transition medical procedures for minors have also sought legislation that would make it illegal for their citizens to travel to other states to get things done.
Now Colorado becomes their beacon on a hill, the first state to legally protect teen transgender treatment. The bill signed into law by Polis prevents the state from recognizing or engaging in any criminal prosecutions or lawsuits for anyone who receives, provides or assists in abortions and gender-affirming care.
How the West was won
Western states have for years been viewed as liberal-leaning, but Hunt is alarmed at a Republican national leadership that he says has conceded the land in and beyond the Rockies – and he can tell you exactly how the West was won.
"We were settled generally by people who were leaving from the East. They wanted to be free of government restrictions. They wanted freedom in their lives. The Left, comes in and says, 'Well, we're not going to arrest you for having any pot in your pockets; and by the way, we'll let you kind of live the life you want to live.' That seems very appealing to the natural kind of tendencies of the West," Hunt said.
Hunt hopes The Western Conservative Summit, hosted by The Centennial Institute in June, can begin to turn the Tide. Since 2010 the Summit has brought the nation's top conservative leaders to Denver where more than a hundred speakers and exhibitors address thousands of attendees. The goal is to inspire, educate and activate grassroots conservatives to be difference-makers in their communities.
The lack of a strong core of Bible-believing residents complicates matters in the West, Hunt said.
"We don't typically have high church adherence out here, with the exception of Utah. So, the base, the foundation of a strong biblical worldview was never really established in the Western United States, and as a result, the Left has really jumped on that and used it to their advantage," Hunt said.
Consequently, he isn't surprised that Republicans lost not only California, Oregon and Washington but also Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico in Donald Trump's bid for reelection in 2020.
Hunt also points out the Republican National Committee hasn't held its convention in the West since Bob Dole won the nomination in San Diego in 1996.
"The LA Times is now calling this the New West. One-third of all the electoral votes that Joe Biden needed to win came from the Western United States, and it's getting bluer and bluer and bluer," Hunt said.
Not only Transgender Tourism
In addition to Transgender Tourism there are two other Colorado bills to note.
One requires insurance companies to cover reproductive health care, including the full cost of abortions and sterilizations and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. A second prohibits the use of "deceptive advertising" by pro-life centers known as crisis pregnancy centers and temporarily designates offering so-called abortion reversal medication as "unprofessional conduct."
Hunt suggests the nation hasn't been so divided since Civil War days when Americans had passionate opinions on slavery and state's rights.
"We haven't seen this type of division in morality and worldview in this country since the 1860s where you have states that are going one direction, states going the other direction, people moving to states so that they can embrace that type of policy in worldview."
Hunt says left-leaning policy intentionally antagonizes Christians. He calls it "vitriolic hatred of the Christian worldview."
State government's efforts to become a transgender Disney World are making Colorado even less conservative.
"We've had so many conservatives from Colorado head to Florida, Texas and Wyoming. I don't blame them. It's crazy. We're about to have a massive tax increase on our property value here. All of that is coming together," Hunt said.
That property tax increase is fueled in part by increased home values in many Colorado communities.
While conservatives move out, liberals move in. Hunt says Polis's policies are showing themselves in a number of disturbing ways.
"Leftists in red states are moving to Colorado, so the state's getting bluer and bluer and bluer, and the policies are getting crazier and crazier and crazier. And the sad thing is there's so much suffering right now in the state of Colorado. We have so much crime, so much homelessness, so many drug overdoses, youth suicide," Hunt said.
In the past three years, teen suicide in Colorado has risen from 12.9 to 20.4 deaths per 100,000 adolescents ages 15-19. That 58% increase gives Colorado the nation's highest rate of increase in teen suicides in seven years, according to Colorado Public Radio.
"We're like one of the highest in the country among youth suicide, and yet their solution is to take parents out of the equation, create this kind of tourism industry for abortion," Hunt said.
"We used to be known for like John Denver and Red Rocks and Aspen, and skiing and hiking. Now we're known for our drugs, our abortions, and our transgender surgeries. What is going on with this state? And they're so broken right now, but that's the reality on the ground, and it's getting tougher and tougher for Christians in places like Colorado."
Abortions on the increase
Research shows abortions in America declined by 6% in the months following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last summer. The numbers were compiled from roughly 80% of all abortion providers and considers April 2022 to August 2022.
The Dobbs v. Jackson's Women's Health Organization decision was announced on June 24.
Some Red states, anticipating a ruling by the High Court, had laws restricting abortions set to go into effect immediately. But abortion didn't decline everywhere.
Colorado saw a 33% increase in legal abortions. That was the third-highest increase following North Carolina and Kansas.
"So, the West is falling. It's becoming a solid blue block – and I am desperately trying to get national conservative leaders to recognize this, spend time here, invest here," Hunt concluded.
"The Democratic National Convention was at Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado in 2008. We now don't have a single Republican elected state official, period, in the state of Colorado anymore, with near super-majorities in both the House and the Senate. The Left invested in the West and they're reaping all the benefits of it."
* The Centennial Institute, based in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, aims to enhance public understanding of key issues relating to faith, family and freedom through research, seminars and conferences and analysis of public policy.
Editor's note: Jeff Hunt made his comments Friday on American Family Radio.