Metro Weekly

“Burn All the Pride Flags” Demands Colorado GOP

State GOP email decries LGBTQ people as "barbaric," "creeps," "degenerates," "predators," "radicals," "reprobates," and "godless groomers."

Photo Illustration by Todd Franson

The Colorado Republican Party marked the start of Pride Month with a mass email to supporters disparaging the LGBTQ community as “godless groomers” and a social media post calling for the burning of all Pride flags.

The party’s email — “God Hates Pride” — decried the recognition of June as Pride Month, referring to LGBTQ people as “barbaric,” “creeps,” “degenerates,” “predators,” “radicals,” and “reprobates,” as reported by Denver-based journalist Kyle Clark of NBC affiliate KUSA.

“The month of June has arrived and, once again, the godless groomers in our society want to attack what is decent, holy, and righteous so they can ultimately harm our children,” the email reads.

The message also linked to a sermon from anti-gay Arizona-based pastor Mark Driscoll, in which he argues that the Pride flag represents a demonic message.

The video thumbnail image features a possessed-looking Jesus against the backdrop of a rainbow Pride flag bearing the words “God Hates Flags.”

That phrase is a nod to an infamous “God Hates Fags” slogan frequently used by the Westboro Baptist Church.

The Kansas-based church regularly attacks the United States as a godless nation, protests military funerals by claiming service members’ deaths are punishment for the sinful behavior of Americans, and condemns members of the LGBTQ community, including victims of hate crimes and those who died from HIV, as going to Hell.

The GOP’s email refers to gender-affirming care — one of the Republican Party’s favorite wedge issues of late — as “barbaric medical procedures,” claiming that puberty blockers and hormonal treatments are “irreversible.” 

After Clark posted screenshots of the emails to social media, the Colorado GOP’s official account responded with a GIF of pixelated fire and the message, “Burn all #pride flags this June.”

Clark noted in a follow-up post on X that the state party’s call to burn Pride flags “reflects that the state party’s allegiance is to the values of state GOP Chairman Dave Williams, even more so than those of Donald Trump.”

He noted that in 2020, Williams proposed a statewide same-sex marriage ban that neither the Colorado GOP nor Republicans in the state legislature would endorse.

Williams is currently running for the Republican nomination in the state’s heavily conservative 5th Congressional District, based in Colorado Springs.

This isn’t the party’s only foray into anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in recent weeks.

Last month, the party sent out an email urging parents in the state to remove their children from public schools, claiming that Democrats are trying to infiltrate schools and “turn more kids trans.”

That email referred to transgender identity as a “fetish” and “disturbing behavior which should be treated rather then (sic) encouraged,” adding that using a person’s proper pronouns does “not make any sense and causes gender confusion.”

Valdamar Archuleta, the president of the Colorado Log Cabin Republicans and a fervent Trump supporter who is a candidate for the heavily-Democratic 1st Congressional District in Denver, blasted party leaders as “morons,” saying the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric had made it hard for Republicans in Democratic or swing districts to gain traction.

Recent election cycles have seen Democrats romp in the state, but rather than moderating and picking Republicans with greater appeal to a wide swath of voters — with the exception of moderate Joe O’Dea, who ran in the 2022 U.S. Senate election against entrenched incumbent (and moderate Democrat) Michael Bennet — the Colorado GOP has instead embraced candidates who have employed incendiary rhetoric, embraced wild conspiracy theories, or appeared with prominent figures within the anti-LGBTQ movement.

Archuleta called the email “just hateful” and “disgusting and offensive.” The Denver Republican said he was renouncing the party’s endorsement — despite standing by the values that undergird conservatism and his support of other Republican candidates for office, including former President Donald Trump.

“I want [the party] to recognize that this [email] is going to have consequences,” he told Colorado Public Radio

Colorado Public Radio notes that the anti-gay rhetoric employed by the GOP in recent years is reminiscent of the party’s rhetoric of two decades ago, when the Religious Right held strong sway over state politics and Colorado Republicans routinely ranted against LGBTQ people, culminating in a voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in 2006.

The timing of the party’s email may be a call to arms by Williams and other social conservatives with the party to punish GOP lawmakers who have voted with Democrats in recent years to ban conversion therapy for minors, authorize civil unions, and, this year, approve two constitutional amendments — which will appear on the November ballot for approval by voters — that would make it easier to access abortion services and repeal the 2006 ban on same-sex marriage.

In addition to Archuleta, other GOP congressional candidates criticized the party’s email blast.

State Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-Akron), running in the 4th Congressional District against anti-LGBTQ Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, said the party should focus on supporting Republicans running for office, not on opposing the concept of Pride Month.

State Rep. Mike Lynch (R-Wellington), who is also running in the 4th District, told Colorado Public Radio that party leaders are trying to “distract from their horrid performance” in recent election cycles, adding that it’s not up to politicians to “legislate morality.”

“Everybody is sick of us taking this to a level of violence,” he said. “You know, burning stuff is kind of a violent act. Can we just be adults and fix people’s problems?”

State Rep. David Ortiz (D-Littleton), an Army combat veteran who is bisexual, blasted the GOP’s anti-LGBTQ messaging.

Wild the fact that we exist as LGBTQ+ upsets the worst among us so much,” he wrote on X. “They’ll spend time & energy to hate us, troll us, & incite violence against us. I served in military & sacrificed for you. We have ALWAYS existed & will continue to exist & thrive.”


In another post, he wrote: “CO GOP… More in common with the Taliban than the founding fathers.”

But Williams, the state party chair, refuses to be cowed by the criticism or apologize, telling Colorado Public Radio in a text message that Pride Month is “an agenda that harms children and undermines parental authority.”

“The backlash we see is coming from radical Democrats, the media and pundits, and weak Republicans who want to stick their heads in the sand,” he wrote.

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