Legal Perspective written by Bárbara Renaud González
"From the legal perspective, in a profound way, this ruling will be significant in all struggles having to do with cultural diversity," said legal counsel and law professor Amy Kastely, who led the seven-women legal team representing the Esperanza.
Emphasizing the word diversity, Kastely reflected on disputes swirling around artistic freedom, "like the Brooklyn Museum's Sensation exhibit," where Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani sought to revoke city financing, but "the Court ruled in favor of the first amendment." Most recently, she said, "governments have been called upon to deny funding to museums that displayed the work of Chicana artist Alma Lopez, who depicted the Virgen of Guadalupe in a rose-petal bikini."
In terms of the historical "settlement" between the City Council and the Esperanza, Kastely also emphasized that the half-a-million dollar payment did not mean that the case will be dismissed in exchange for compensation. "This agreement," she explained, "includes a consent decree which we expect that Judge García will enter as an order." The consent decree is important, she said, "because the City concedes that there is a risk of Constitutional violations and Open Meeting Act violations in the future and the Esperanza and other plaintiffs are entitled to protection against such future violations."
"We mujeres, Chicanas, lesbianas, people of conciencia, learned something from the Civil Rights Movement of the past," explains Sánchez, taking a break from the frenetic activity at the Center after the City Councils settlement vote on Thursday afternoon.
"We are all one." Then she takes a breath.
"In this new century, we recognize -- more than ever -- that we must treat each other as equals, with dignity and respect. Otherwise we are not free...and we will never have peace."
"Isnt that what we all want?"