A parent who sent a letter to the Columbus Dispatch complaining that Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady (pictured left) was a no-show as the commencement speaker at Bishop Ready High School in Columbus, Ohio, opened up nasty can of worms. O’Grady, who is a graduate of Ready High, told the Dispatch he had been looking forward to the event, but a week before graduation, he was asked not to appear. O’Grady admitted he was surprised, because he had spoken to gatherings at the school many times before, most recently to the Honors Society at the beginning of the school year. He confided to the Dispatch he was told the order came from Bishop Frederick Campbell, who was angry that O’Grady, who has a long history of LGBT support, had agreed to serve as co-chair for the Freedom to Marry Initiative, trying to overturn the ban against marriage equality in Ohio.
You may recall that Bishop Campbell was in the news recently when he fired Carla Hale, a long-time gym teacher at Bishop Watterson High School, who was outed as gay when she included the name of her partner in an obituary for Carla’s mother. Given that history, I suppose we should not be surprised that he told John O’Grady he was no longer welcome. But Bishop Campbell and Ready High School’s treatment of John O’Grady went beyond insult.
Perhaps the Bishop and the Ready High Principal, Celene Seamen, should brush up on their commandments, specifically the one that says “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Instead of owning up to their culpability in uninviting John O’Grady, they told the student body the commissioner couldn’t make it because something came up, putting the onus for his absence on him, and not on themselves. Though the commissioner’s name was still in the program, there was no mention of the reason why he was not on the dais, leaving parents of the graduates, like the one that complained to the Columbus Dispatch, to assume it was O’Grady who didn’t live up to his commitment to appear.
It is irritating enough that Commissioner O’Grady would be excluded for his support of LGBT issues, but it is quite another thing altogether to cause O’Grady to be blamed for not appearing as he promised. Allowing another to take the blame for your actions? Someone needs to hit the confessional, Bishop Campbell.
Jean Ann Esselink is a straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.
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