CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM-CLEVELAND, Ohio-Ohio state Rep. Stephanie Howse, a Cleveland Democrat, Democratic state Rep. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood, the Rev Tony Minor, and Cleveland activist and journalist Kathy Wray Coleman were among the speakers at a healthcare rally on Public Square in Cleveland Saturday, April 1, an event that pushed pro choice and the Affordable Care Act, and where women's rights activists spoke out against the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the United States Supreme Court. (Editor's note: Coleman also led protesters in a march from Public Square in downtown Cleveland to the nearby Federal Building, an event organized by Organizing for Action (OFA) of Cuyahoga County and NARAL Pro -Choice Ohio. Cleveland police were on hand as escorts during the march, compliments of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, a Democrat and the city's three-term Black mayor). CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF RALLY SPEAKERS ON THE FACEBOOK PAGE OF NARAL-PRO CHOICE OHIO
"We are sad that Justice Antonin Scalia died, but we do not want him replaced with an ultra conservative," said Coleman, referencing Gorsuch's stance against abortion and his policy views against women's rights, including comments he made that women need to get permission from their employers to bare children.
Leader of the Cleveland-based grassroots organization the Imperial Women Coalition, Coleman said that "we will protect the legacy of former president Barack Obama not just because he is Black but because his policies are for the betterment of the Black community, women, the LGBT community......"
"Twenty-sixteen was a rough year for us, we know that," said state Rep. Howse in responding to the election of Republican nominee Donald Trump as president over Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee and a former secretary of state. "It is a war going on against poor people."
Organized by Organizing for Action (OFA) Cuyahoga County Chapter and NARAL Pro -Choice Ohio, the rally was
followed by a march to the Federal Building in downtown Cleveland and was timely with U.S. Senate Republicans, on April, 6, out voting the Democratic minority to lower the threshold for confirmation by Supreme Court nominees from 60 votes to a simply majority, an unprecedented change in the way the Senate confirms Supreme Court nominees that paves the way for a likely confirmation vote on Gorsuch on Friday, April 7. (Editor's note: The change in the confirmation rules, initiated via a nuclear option by the Senate, came after a Democratic filer-buster regarding the Gorsuch nomination. Republicans control both chambers of Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, the venue required for confirmation of presidential nominees from the executive branch and federal court).
Also among the roughly 10 speakers at the rally of about 175 people were a Cleveland Clinic doctor and his 97-year-old patient who both spoke out in support of the Affordable Care Act, Obama' signature universal healthcare initiative that escaped a Republican repeal effort two weeks ago when the affiliated bill was pulled from consideration but remains under attack, Ellie Martin Elston of OFA Cuyahoga County Chapter, abortion rights activist Mallory McMaster of Preterm, and Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro- Choice Ohio. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF RALLY SPEAKERS ON THE FACEBOOK PAGE OF NARAL-PRO CHOICE OHIO
During her rally speech on Public Square, Copeland addressed the 2014 decision in Burrell vs Hobby Lobby where Supreme Court, ruled 5-4 that regulations promulgated under the Affordable Care Act that required employers to provide female employees with no-cost access to contraceptives violates the Religions Freedom Restoration Act
If Gorsuch is confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice, women's rights can expect an enormous setback, Copeland said Saturday.
At Saturday's healthcare march activists also thanked U.S Sen Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, for his policy stances for women and his objection to the confirmation of Gorsuch, whom Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has deemed a good choice with an "independent voice."