COLUMBUS—While Ohioans were sleeping, House Democratic lawmakers were offering two amendments on the House floor late Thursday and early Friday that would have prohibited the sale, display, possession or distribution of Confederate memorabilia at county and independent fairs, following a similar rule instituted by the Ohio State Fair in 2015. The motions came during floor debate on House Bill 665, which made several other changes to laws on local and county fairs.
The U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy and NASCAR recently announced similar bans on Confederate memorabilia. Republicans rejected the amendments largely along party lines, voting instead to protect the sale of the Confederate flag.
“In the early morning hours of June 12, 2020, the Ohio House of Representatives had an important opportunity to embrace diversity, proclaim black lives matter and help silence white supremacy in our state. I am extremely disappointed that only the Democrats rose to the moment. History will not speak well of those Members of the General Assembly who chose - in 2020 - to protect the Confederate flag. While Ohio was a Union state in the Civil War, I am shocked and saddened that my Ohio General Assembly Republican colleagues not only still fight for the losing side, but also don't realize the personal pain that they continue to cause when they embrace that symbol of terror. Racists need allies to continue their hate and yesterday they found many in the Ohio House chamber,” said Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid).
The amendments come amid continued demonstrations in dozens of cities and towns across Ohio where protesters have called for an end to police brutality, white supremacy and racism in the United States following the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
A second Democratic amendment would have cut state funding to county and independent fairs who allow the sale of Confederate memorabilia. Republicans tabled that amendment as well.
House Bill 665 passed the House and now moves to the Senate for consideration.