On June 26, I, like millions of other Americans both gay and straight, waited with anticipation as the Supreme Court prepared to release its decisions in the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 cases.
The nervous energy that characterized that day represented the culmination of weeks of waiting and false alarms, as the court ruled on unrelated, but no less important, cases.
It came as little surprise that DOMA was ruled unconstitutional, but what was notable was the reasoning behind the five-justice majority’s opinion, authored by the notorious swing justice, Anthony Kennedy.
Instead of ruling based on federalism grounds, the court came out decidedly on the side of fairness and equality, ruling DOMA to be “unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”
Similarly, the court found that the defenders of Prop 8 lacked legal standing to defend the law, thus leaving in place a district court injunction against its enforcement.
These two decisions represent an unequivocal victory for the LGBT community: No longer will the marriages of same-sex partners be considered less equal or less worthy in the eyes of the law, and loving same-sex couples will now have access to over a thousand federal benefits normally accorded to heterosexual married couples.
Binational same-sex couples will no longer be forced to make the choice between the country they love and they person they love. Same-sex marriages have already continued again in California.
But the work is not finished. The court did not go so far as to declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and it remains banned or limited in 37 states. Outside of marriage, LGBT individuals continue to face significant discrimination in many other realms of daily life.
In Ohio, individuals can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their houses and even denied public accommodations merely because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identification.
At the grass-roots level, organizations like Equality Ohio are working on the front lines to address these injustices and pass legislation known as the Equal Housing and Employment Act (EHEA), which would prohibit such discrimination.
With a U.S. Senate committee’s historic approval of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the time is now for Ohio legislators to show they stand for fairness and equality for all their constituents.
On capability not color
I watched President Obama’s speech relating to the Zimmerman trial outcome. It was unusual to see a president grappling so deeply with his own thoughts.
Do I need to remind him that this nation voted for him as president, and lest one think that was fluke, did so twice? These are not the actions of a prejudiced people.
He asked whether there was any doubt what the verdict would be if the races were reversed in the key players in this case, as if the answer to this question was clear to all.
On what basis does he judge the outcome of a trial about which he has no knowledge? That’s a pretty basic legal concept for someone with a law degree.
Are we to buy into the assumption that racism colors all that occurs in our nation, at all times, and that we all need to be cognizant of that supposed fact? I believe the statement is the definition of prejudice — predetermination on some issue on the basis of race alone.
Actually, I think the outcome of that hypothetical trial is not known, and that it is impossible to determine what the outcome might be. To say that the outcome would be X or Y based solely on the race of the persons reflects a prejudiced mind set.
I think the president’s goal was to help people heal, but his statements said more about his own state of mind than anything of consequence about our nation.
The president need look no further than the chair in the Oval Office to see a clear and very personal indication that this nation today judges people based on their capability, not the color of their skin.
Actors’ Summit at Greystone
The recent article highlighting plans to transform Akron’s landmark Greystone Hall into a luxury hotel complex seems like an exciting venture for our area.
Having an additional lodging option in the downtown area will, I hope, attract more corporate and convention business, as well as visitors, to Akron. Of course, it’s all about marketing and promotion.
The article noted that Greystone Hall is the current home of Actors’ Summit, a professional theater group. Previously located in Hudson, the theater moved to the sixth floor of Greystone Hall a few years ago.
I hope the planning team recognizes that having an entertainment option such as live theater in a hotel venue can prove to be beneficial and lucrative for many.
Major hotels, particularly in Las Vegas, have created intimate spaces for live productions and shows that have enjoyed successful runs on Broadway. Why not consider this as an added bonus for Akron’s guests?
Emily Audra Fleisher
Missing in Akron? A water spray park
The Akron City Council and Mayor Don Plusquellic have done nothing for 13 years to build even one water spray pad in the city.
During these days of record-breaking heat, photos in the Beacon Journal of children cooling off and having fun in the water were taken in another city or village.
Medina, a community of 15,000 people, will soon have a second “water splash pad.” Cuyahoga Falls hosts seven wading pools, Water Works Park, the Natatorium and the fountain on Front Street. They are all places where families can have fun in the water.
I am saddened for the children who are stuck in Akron, a city with a mayor and council members who obviously do not care about young families.
Many of us tried to get a water spray park in Akron. Thanks to Plusquellic, we could not even get a lot to build it on.
Akron has money for a $1 million scoreboard for the baseball field. It has come up with hundreds of millions for other projects around the city, and it now will help finance a $40 million hotel.
The Akron Zoo spent enough money on acres of park land and a water park for bears to build three water free water pads in the city. Akron’s children can go to the zoo and watch the bears play in the water on hot summer days.
Funny how in the past 13 years, the city, Metro Parks and the zoo, all supported by tax dollars, have not come up with just $200,000 for a water spray pad for our children. The city has not even requested grant money from the state to help build a water spray pad.
I still wonder where Plusquellic, deputy mayors and council members take their children and grandchildren to play in the water on these hot summer days.
Fewer T-shirts, more Italy
Once again the organizers for the Festa Italiana missed a chance to educate the residents about Italy.
Instead, there was a display of financial greed on the part of vendors who wanted me and you to pay exorbitant prices for inferior and overpriced food and drinks, tattoos, gem stones, popcorn, from south of the border, T-shirts, pastries and cookies of questionable nutritional value, games of chance and basement repairs, among other things.
The same vendors sell much of the same stuff each festival. Where was the information about Italy?
I believe that this year’s Festa was as much of a sham as last year’s, for the same reasons. Tell us about the Italian winners of the Nobel Prize.
Show us a map of the Italian provinces and offer a quiz about Italian geography and history, with the winners getting a discount for food at an Italian food market or business.
Present a video about different regions of Italy. Encourage people to identify with the homeland according to where their families came from by locating the province or town of origin on a map.
Otherwise, change the title to “Festa Americana.” Let us learn about modern Italy. Ever wonder why enrollment in Italian classes is so low? Treat the county with respect.
David J. Gruccio
After the federal bailout, now we have the proposed Norton bailout. Some residents want all others to pay for their sewer hookup. I am not going for this pickpocket tactic. My sewer has been hooked up since 1971.
Too bad government and some people think the whole population should pay their way. To many people, that is what a freeloader is.
Residents, read that ballot on Aug 6 before you give it all away.
John D. Ambrose