Ohio House Speaker Backs Down, Will Allow Pro-Life Teen to Receive Award
by Steven Ertelt
February 10, 2010
Columbus, OH (LifeNews.com) — After an outpouring of opposition from pro-life advocates across the state, Ohio House Speaker Armond Budish will allow a pro-life teen to receive an award form the legislature. Shelby County teen Elisabeth Trisler was hoping to receive a legislative honor routinely presented to others.
However, Budish refused to allow Trisler on the House floor to accept a legislative resolution.
The resolution, authored by Rep. John Adams, a Republican, honors her accomplishment as the National Right to Life Oratory Contest winner last year. (LifeNews.com editor Steven Ertelt was an officiating judge at the contest).
Budish spokesman Keary McCarthy told the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper on Monday that Budish pulled the plug on the event on February 3 after becoming uncomfortable with the "politically sensitive" nature of the award because it was sponsored by a pro-life group.
Burdish, a Democrat, has changed his mind and now hopes Trisler can come to the legislature to receive her award next week.
McCarthy told the newspaper today that Burdish is worried about "inaccurate" criticism that he would not allow the award because it had to do with the pro-life perspective on abortion.
"We will go ahead with this presentation," McCarthy said. "We’d like to shoot for sometime next week depending on how the schedules looks."
But McCarthy earlier told the newspaper, "You want to save these occasions for times when the House can jointly celebrate their constituents’ achievements without the undertone of politics."
McCarthy said "the Speaker is not going to permit politically sensitive groups to use the House floor as a platform, whether it’s a gay-rights advocacy group or a right to life organization."
Ohio Right to Life led the protest of the decision and its executive director Mike Gonidakis told LifeNews.com today about the latest developments.
"Speaker Budish recently called me to convey his change of heart and I thanked him on behalf of the pro-life community," said Gonidakis.
"Blocking speech because you don’t like what someone is saying or what they stand for goes against the very fabric of who we are as Americans. And, while the speaker got there the hard way, at least he got there," he added.
Previously, Gonidakis told LifeNews.com, "Surely Speaker Budish can put aside his partisanship for 10 minutes to honor the accomplishments of a talented and optimistic teenage girl. Perhaps his real message to Ohio’s teens is that excelling in public speaking isn’t worth being honored if their views are different than his."
Adams responded saying, ""The Ohio House of Representatives is known as the ‘people’s house.’"
"It is an outrage that Speaker Budish has decided to politicize and deny the presentation of a proclamation honoring national pro-life award on the House floor that was previously approved by the Speaker," Adams said.
The newspaper indicated that, since the latest legislative session began last month, 43 groups and individuals have received similar resolutions on the state House floor.
Trisler won the National Right to Life Oratory Contest held at the NRLC Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina in June, 2009. During the second half of 2009, Rep. Adams’s office worked to schedule the presentation of Trisler’s proclamation on the House floor.
On January 29, the House Clerk informed Rep. Adams’s office the presentation was canceled because the Speaker "had a problem with the subject matter."
"The Ohio House chamber is a monument to the importance of oratory and persuasion on the great issues facing our state," added Gonidakis. "Silencing someone because you disagree is a terrible lesson to teach teens. The Speaker should reconsider his unfortunately petty decision."
Related web sites:
Ohio Right to Life – https://www.ohiolife.org
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