This guest editorial from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock first appeared in Colorado Politics.

Our Colorado way of life is built upon the values of freedom, fairness and opportunity. It is because of these values that I am in full support of removing language permitting slavery from our state constitution by voting YES on Amendment A. Legislators on both sides of the aisle agree this deeply offensive and dangerous language cannot remain, and we cannot pretend to be a state that honors freedom while slavery is still hidden in the fine print of our state constitution.

While passing Amendment A would not affect our state’s ability to incarcerate or implement work-release and community service programs, this measure is far from symbolic. Slavery will never be an acceptable practice and we must remove this language immediately to ensure that existing language permitting slavery will never be used or abused in the future. There are 23 other states in our nation that have no language involving slavery or involuntary servitude in their Constitutions whatsoever; Colorado needs to get with the times. This cruel and barbaric practice has no place existing in a document that serves as the legal and moral foundation of our state laws.

Coloradans are trailblazers. Together, we have the unique opportunity to be the first state in the country to remove this offensive language from our constitution and become a model for the rest of the nation — a model of our commitment to our values and of our commitment to freedom. Right now, this moment in history is incredibly important for a host of reasons, not the least of which being that we have the chance to finally and completely erase the legacy of slavery from being institutionalized in our laws. The time is right for Colorado to be the first state to take this step toward removing this harmful language.

Amendment A had 100 percent bipartisan support from all Colorado state legislators to get it on the ballot. Now, it’s the responsibility of the voters. We must vote our values and permanently abolish slavery from our Colorado Constitution. We have the opportunity to send a message to the rest of the country while distancing ourselves from the ugly history of institutional slavery. Casting a “Yes” vote for Amendment A is casting a vote for a freer state, a freer country, and a freer world. I hope every Coloradan will join me in doing the right thing by our communities and our state. Vote YES on Amendment A.