Thursday, March 20, 2003

Brinkman only Ohio lawmaker to oppose 14th amendment

By Shelley Davis
Enquirer Columbus Bureau

COLUMBUS - A Cincinnati lawmaker has drawn criticism for being the lone dissenter in Ohio's long-delayed ratification of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law for all U.S. citizens.

Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., R-Cincinnati, was the only member of the Ohio General Assembly to vote against ratifying the amendment. He said the bill itself was symbolic and his vote on March 12 was meant to symbolize his displeasure that the amendment has been used to justify taking away state authority on issues from abortion to E-Check.

"It's misapplied constantly by the country to get states to do things they don't want to do," Brinkman said. "Most importantly to me, 45 million babies have been murdered since judges forced Roe v. Wade down the throats of citizens."

But sponsors hoped the amendment's ratification would end a racial embarrassment from Ohio's past. State lawmakers rescinded it in 1868 after they declared it "contrary to the best interests of the white race."

"In reality ... equal rights are already granted to people at the national level," said Dr. Calvert Smith, president of the Cincinnati NAACP. "(Brinkman's vote) sends a message, though, to the African-American community, which says, `I really question the degree to which we should validate your right to have these rights.' "

Smith said he is concerned that Brinkman's vote will add to the negative racial image that already plagues Cincinnati. "In spite of the rationale he may have in terms of abortion rights, the question becomes to what degree that particular act (voting no) reflects the feelings of the total populous of the area, rather than just a limited segment," Smith said.

When the vote occurred, Brinkman voted without making any comments about abortion or otherwise. He said later that he didn't want to stir up an already controversial issue.

Demeaning comments made during the ratification debate forced Rep. Timothy Grendell, R-Chesterland, who is white, to publicly apologize Tuesday to the bill's sponsor, Sen. Mark Mallory, D-Cincinnati, who is black.

Grendell had implied Mallory was illiterate after Mallory responded to a memo Grendell wrote about the amendment. Despite his comments, Grendell voted for ratification.


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