The last few months have been a whirlwind for Lucía Guzman. At the beginning of the year she was sitting as the Senate minority leader. In March, she stepped down from that role and has slowly been inching her way out of politics.
It wasn’t an easy decision, as Guzman has been fighting at the Capitol for nearly a decade. And Guzman knows how to fight well. Her drive to propell Colorado into a better future is what landed her One Colorado’s Lifetime Achievement Award this year.
In 1999, Guzman claimed a seat on the board of Denver Public Schools—a move that catapulted her long commitment to civil rights in Colorado. It was a conscious decision to move on from serving as the executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches and into something more political. It worked.
In 2003, then-Mayor John Hickenlooper appointed Guzman the executive director of the City and County of Denver’s Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships. It was not a role she took lightly, and was ready to fight against the barriers of discrimination and oppression.
“As a Latina and a lesbian, I am well aware of the obstacles placed in front of us,” Guzman told OUT FRONT. “It is the job of both marginalized groups to work together to overcome the adversities. We must face these obstacles together, because if not we will find ourselves oppressing each other. It is crucial to work together and understand one another so that we can carry each other into a future where equality is reality. That’s where my passion comes from.”
That passion and commitment to marginalized communities carried her far. In 2010, she was elected to represent District 34 in the Colorado Senate. Guzman was then re-elected in 2014. During her second term she acted as the Senate minority leader for three years.
“I was the first Latina and the first openly lesbian Latina to serve in Senate leadership,” she said.
Calling Guzman an icon, Daniel Ramos, executive director of One Colorado, said it was “a no-brainer” that she would receive the award this year.
“Her long, storied history of public service makes her someone that young people in both the LGBTQ community and the Latino community can look up to,” Ramos said. “From her work in then-Denver Mayor Hickenlooper’s office on civil rights to becoming the first lesbian Latina to lead a Democratic caucus in the Colorado State Senate, Lucia is a trailblazer in every sense of the word who truly embodies someone who has accomplished a lifetime of achievement.”
Recently, Guzman stepped down from that role following a sexual harassment scandal at the Colorado Capitol. Republicans began accusing democratic Senator Daniel Kagan of being found several times in an unmarked women’s restroom at the Capitol. Kagan claimed that he had accidently entered the women’s restroom one time by mistake.
“I have been very, very saddened,” Guzman told reporters when she stepped down. “Particularly this last situation where Senator Kagan has been accused of something that is not true. To see my colleague have to go through that, go through something that’s based on lies, makes it impossible for me to meet the leadership of the Republican caucus eye to eye. I have always had a moral compass, and it is my moral compass that has made me understand—helped me understand—that I can no longer lead this caucus because I can no longer work with the leadership across the aisle.”
“This is truly about good leadership. Good leaders who are coming to the end of their term should make it possible for new people to be able to gain that support… Justice will come when justice is ready. It will come.”
Currently, Guzman is learning how to ride a mustang, studying Colorado’s roaming wild horse herds, and even thinking about buying a farm so she can have a few horses of her own.