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In My Opinion

City Hall Bullies

by Paula Ison

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Although I had driven by City Hall a thousand times, I had never gone inside and watched the city council conducts its business. That changed on February 4th when I attended the public hearing for the Hate Crime amendment sponsored by councilman, John Cranley.

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For the first hour the hearing went without incident as the first 25 speakers were all in favor of the amendment. Some speakers were quite eloquent with prepared text and others humbly told their stories to the council. All were considerate to the council, thanking the council for the opportunity to speak that day.

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Then suddenly, civility came to an abrupt end when an opposing speaker blatantly said that his group had a 75% success rate of defeating candidates for re-election; that his group would target anyone on the council who voted in favor of the amendment. Then immediately another opponent to the amendment advised the council in no uncertain terms that they would be sued if they passed the amendment. There was nothing subtle about either of these two fellows.

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As I sat there listening to the saber rattling by these two opponents, it occurred to me that in my childhood I had met people just like them. We called them "school yard bullies". The only thing different at city hall is that instead of being dressed in jeans and a tee shirt and demanding our lunch money, they now dress in suits and ties and demand our constitutional rights and our dignity. No matter how you dress them up, a bully is still a bully.

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It was the incredible lack of subtlety of these two men that struck me the most. In my job I negotiate monetary deals for my employer, some of which are reasonably intense, yet we always play by gentleman rules. Not these two guys; they took off the gloves and immediately hit hard below the belt and they left no doubt that theyíll follow up on their threats. 

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I was also surprised at the lack of reaction by most of the city council. John Cranley got a bit feisty and David Pepper got pretty animated but others on the council apparently are used to intimidation tactics and were quite restrained in their lack of reaction.

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But we in the GLBT community should not be restrained. We need to fight back within the rules which is to be sure that every single of one of us is registered to vote, and do vote, in our various communities. As the last presidential election taught us, every vote really does count and we will need every vote we can muster for the council election this fall and for the Article Twelve repeal being planned for the following year.

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We can also get off the sofa and join groups such as the Pride Parade Committee, GLSEN, Stonewall, the Community Center and other fine groups. There are fifty organized GLBT groups in Cincinnati. Join one and get involved.

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Iím tired of bullies taking our GLBT lunch money. Letís put an end to it now.

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