COLUMBUS, Ohio, February 9, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In what critics are calling an unprecedented act of bias, pro-abortion Ohio House Speaker Armond Budish (D-Beechwood) has denied Shelby County teen Elisabeth Trisler a routine legislative honor, evidently because he objects to Trisler's pro-life values. Budish is refusing to allow Trisler on the House floor to accept a legislative resolution, authored by Rep. John Adams (R-Sidney), which honors Trisler's accomplishment as the National Right to Life Oratory Contest winner.
Alongside local pro-life leaders, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio has criticized the move, indicating the refusal amounted to "teaching young people that the answer is to silence those who disagree with us."
Honorary resolutions such as the one given to Trisler are routinely presented at the start of Ohio House legislative sessions to constituents, including those who win athletic championships or academic contests. In this case, however, Trisler will receive the resolution in the mail, according to Ohio Right to Life.
"Surely Speaker Budish can put aside his partisanship for 10 minutes to honor the accomplishments of a talented and optimistic teenage girl," said Ohio Right to Life Executive Director Mike Gonidakis. "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."
State Rep. John Adams called the Speaker's denial "an outrage."
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, as is typical of such awards. The presentation was scheduled for Wednesday, February 3, 2010.
However, on January 29th, the House Clerk informed Rep. Adams's office the presentation would not take place because the Speaker "had a problem with the subject matter." The clerk advised the representative's staff to take the matter up with the Speaker. Speaker Budish supports abortion.
"The Ohio House chamber is a monument to the importance of oratory and persuasion on the great issues facing our state," said Gonidakis. "Silencing someone because you disagree is a terrible lesson to teach teens. The Speaker should reconsider his unfortunately petty decision."
ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link also criticized the move, which she says created a "troubling precedent."
"Instead of teaching young people that the answer is to silence those who disagree with us, legislators should be modeling how to address difficult issues thoughtfully and listen respectfully to others," said Link.
"Ohio has a diverse political and social landscape that includes a broad spectrum of views that may be controversial to some," she continued. "If we limit whose achievements may be honored, we are only contributing to the notion that these issues are divisive and cannot reasonably be discussed."
Keary McCarthy, the communications director at Speaker Budish's office, said that the Speaker's decision was consistent with precedent that such a presentation should not be used as a platform for a specific political agenda.
"The Speaker believes it's important to avoid having political interests on either side of the aisle abuse this brief opportunity for celebration and recognition," McCarthy told LifeSiteNews.com.
However, he said, "the Speaker will gladly reconsider the request of Representative Adams if appropriate discretion is used in a way that does not contradict the history of the House" for not using the reception as a forum for advocacy.
Speaker of the House, Ohio House of Representatives
77 S. High St
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 466-5441
Fax: (614) 719-0008