Carrie Ann Lucas, a well-known and beloved national disability rights icon from Denver, Colorado, has died at age 47.
“I am so saddened by the loss of a true community leader and activist. Carrie Ann Lucas, you will be remembered for your selfless activism and your fight to change the representation of Coloradans with disabilities,” said Colorado Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera. “I have signed a proclamation to honor her and the important work of disability rights advocates across our state. February 25 will now be known as Carrie Ann Lucas Day. I hope you all will keep Carrie’s family in your hearts, and support those at ADAPT who carry on her advocacy legacy.”
A fierce and passionate disability rights advocate and attorney, Lucas is perhaps best known for pioneering legal representation for disabled parents in danger of losing custody of their children. Lucas had a rare form of muscular dystrophy and was the adoptive mother of four children with disabilities. She experienced discrimination first-hand while adopting her daughter, Heather, in the late 1990s, and this experience inspired her to attend law school at the University of Denver.
“Throughout her life, Carrie taught, protested, litigated, wrote, and advocated for a broad understanding of civil rights and human dignity,” says Amy Robertson, co-director of the Denver-based Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center. She and Lucas met when Lucas sought legal counsel securing accommodations while Lucas was in divinity school, and had worked together closely since then. “Carrie consistently brought an intersectional approach to her work, bringing the parental perspective to disability rights, and vice versa — she insisted on disability rights in civil rights spaces, and the importance of voices of color and LGBTQI people in disability-rights spaces.”
Following her graduation from law school in 2005 Lucas was awarded a prestigious Equal Justice Works fellowship to create a program to protect the rights of parents with disabilities. That program grew into the Windsor, Colorado-based nonprofit, Disabled Parents Rights, which Lucas directed.
One of the only lawyers in America who specialized in tackling discrimination against parents with disabilities, Lucas became a sought-after expert and legal trainer in her field. She won many legal decisions upholding and reaffirming the rights of parents with disabilities in Colorado. Most notably, her leadership and advocacy led to the passing of Colorado House Bill 18-1104 in 2018, which prevented a parent’s disability from being a reason a child could be removed from their home.
“We will likely run a bill to rename HB 18-1104 the Carrie Ann Lucas Act,” says a Facebook post from the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. “This was the bill that stopped child protective services from making disability a negative in assessing capacity to be a parent, an issue that was Carrie’s passion for decades and reason for becoming a lawyer. When that is introduced, heard and debated, there will be an opportunity for people to show up and testify about Carrie.”
Image credit: Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash