REv.Clark: Ohio leaders will stain democracy with unloving, undemocratic resolution
Commentary originally published in the Columbus Dispatch on April 25, 2023
As a person of faith and a concerned Ohioan.
I demand our state leaders oppose and vote "no" on House Joint Resolution 1, which would increase the requirement to a 60% majority vote to approve any constitutional amendment.
It is unwise, unnecessary, undemocratic and
Rev. Dan Clark is is Faith in Public Life Action's Ohio director, and a resident of Licking County.
unpopular to change the Constitution in order to lock in the power of the minority to rule over the majority. Our democracy is based on one person, one vote. It is the duty of those in power to act to preserve our democracy and protect access to the ballot for all Ohioans.
My faith teaches me to love my neighbor. One of the ways we love our neighbors is by listening to them. Our sacred freedom to vote is one of the most important ways in which we hear the voices and concerns of those around us. This resolution silences the voices of those who must be heard in our state. It is unloving, undemocratic and antithetical to my faith.
All of us know the reason for this proposed new law, certain elected officials have made it clear. In November, we expect there to be a citizen-led initiative on the ballot in Ohio giving voters the opportunity to protect people’s reproductive health and allow for abortion access in our state. It is only fair and just that this can pass with a majority vote, 50% plus 1.
But our leaders want to raise it to 60% and this would be a stain on our democracy in Ohio. They are attempting to take away the dignity, agency and autonomy of voters and birthing persons.
We’ve seen people across the country, in other states like ours, use their voice at the ballot together and vote in favor of reproductive freedom.
Now, in Ohio, our leaders want to make it harder for our democracy and our communities to flourish. By raising the amendment threshold to 60%, they want to make it more difficult for voters in the state to fight back against the criminalization of abortion care. Without a doubt, our leaders are blatantly trying to take power away from voters.
For generations, Americans of faith and conscience have used the tools of citizen-led democracy when elected officials could not or would not pay attention to issues of deep importance. I, along with many other Ohio faith leaders, am a part of the millions of faithful Ohioans and everyday people who will continue to fight back against unjust propositions like these.
Fighting for our democracy is in the spiritual DNA of our collective and diverse faith traditions.
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah says, “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.”
I am urging the members in the Statehouse to not make unjust laws, to not issue oppressive decrees. I am urging you all to vote NO on HJR1 to preserve our democracy and protect access for all Ohioans to the ballot.
Rev. Dan Clark is Ohio Director of Faith in Public Life Action and a resident of Licking County.