In response to the January 6 violence in Washington D.C. and the recent targeting of LGBTQ+ and Black-owned businesses in the Columbus area, a new initiative has launched to pass resolutions across Ohio condemning intimidation and violence.
Gahanna Councilwoman Merisa Bowers has partnered with members of the LGBTQ+ Leadership Roundtable of Central Ohio to draft a template resolution that can be adopted by municipalities to show solidarity in reaffirming equality under the law.
Bowers used an Ohio State University Graduate Student Association resolution, modified it substantially, and now the template (listed in full below) is being send all across the state. Already, the city of Westerville is considering adoption with the hope that many more cities and towns will follow.
The approach has already met with positive feedback from LGBTQ+ community leaders.
“I think that the resolution is an amazing example of ally-work, required no Black labor, but welcomed it, and was a spark for meaningful conversation and accountability discussions,” says Siobhan Boyd-Nelson, Director of Development and External Relations at Equality Ohio.
The Buckeye Flame spoke with Bowers to get more info on how this resolution approach can really make a difference.
Why a resolution?
President Trump normalized violent rhetoric and bullying in civil discourse. It is up to all of us to use all the tools and processes that we can access change that. As we keep saying and hearing, “words matter.” A resolution is a way to set expectations of community standards and ideals. And the legislative process to do that is through a resolution.
How do we go about passing resolutions across the state?
I think it’s through leveraging relationships. A lot of us in elected office—especially in this new wave of elected leaders—a lot of us are women and we value relationships very much. Through some of the cohort work and collegial relationship building that we did either during campaigning or while serving in office, we are able to use those relationships to help move the legislation forward and get it in front of our neighboring communities.
In general, one of concerns that has been already been expressed by some communities who have the resolution in front of them is the “why”. We allies need to be able to explain why a resolution like this is both relevant and valuable, including both how and why it matters to each community we represent.
What does success look like for a resolution like this?
There are different ways to answer that. Success at a micro-level is showing our Black friends that we are listening to them, that their voices matter, and that we are going to take up the work that they have been doing tirelessly.
It’s important that we don’t do this to be performative, but are actively moving the resolution forward to be a clear statement of values.
Success is if we get one community to pass this resolution that wouldn’t have otherwise tackled a race issue in the past. If we could get two communities to take a public position on discriminatory intimidation or hateful rhetoric, we’re better off than we were four years ago.
I think we are in this unique position of needing to insist on accountability while also working to build unity around ideals that most of us can agree are community standards. But there’s no real immediate mark of success. It’s more a matter of our doing something to stop the direction that this country has been going.
What can readers to do help?
Quite a few things. Listen to and ask questions of Black and Latina/o folks, new Americans, Arab Americans and Native people who live in your own community and your neighborhood. Amplify the stories and experiences of your neighbors. And establish community expectations, but don’t assume you know what’s right for each community.
With regards to the resolution, readers can contact the members of their local legislative body, their local city council or their township trustees to show support. Every e-mail that elected officials get into our inboxes from someone who supports something that may be new to a community is useful and helpful.
- Contact your local officials straightaway and suggest the resolution below.
The resolution template is as follows:
Resolution of the Council of the City of _____ Condemning Intimidation and Violence and Reaffirming Equality Under the Law
January xx, 2021
WHEREAS Members of the City Council of the City of _______ serve on the representative body for all residents of the city; and,
WHEREAS we fully support diversity, equity, and inclusion of all people; affirming all ages, ancestries, colors, disabilities, gender identities or expressions, genetics, viral status, military or veteran status, employment status, national origins, housing or immigration status, races, religions, sex, sexual orientations; and,
WHEREAS we believe that important functions of society are to share and create knowledge, explore ideas, and welcome diverse opinions in an atmosphere that is civil and safe for all Ohioans; and,
WHEREAS, the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States sets forth our commitment to forming an interconnected union that prioritizes justice, domestic tranquility, our common defense, the general welfare of all, and liberty; and
WHEREAS, the Declaration of Independence, in creating a nascent Union, holds that all of us are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and
WHEREAS, we reiterate that our community is strong because of our steadfast commitment to strive to be inclusive and affirming for people and ideas from all corners of our society and all around the world; and,
WHEREAS, in recent days there have been troubling reports of mental, physical, and verbal assaults on people of all ages at institutions across the country, including in central Ohio; and
WHEREAS, we believe that the promises set forth in the founding documents of the United States of America cannot be fulfilled when some intimidate or instigate violence against others.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ____________, COUNTY OF ______, STATE OF OHIO:
Section 1. That, while supporting each person’s constitutionally protected rights, the City Council for the City of ______ condemns any acts of hate speech, violence, or intimidation of any kind expressed towards any member of our community;
Section 2. That we stand united, both in spite of and as a result of the differences among us, in our call to listen with compassion, to hold accountable those who fail to meet these standards, to welcome a range of perspectives and ideas, and to champion the rights of all people to equality under the law.