Dammit, Justice Scalia.

Last Wednesday WashingtonTimes.com reported on Justice Scalia’s recent speaking engagement at Colorado Christian University. And boy did he have a lot to say. From the Washington Times:

“I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion,” Justice Scalia said.

“That’s a possible way to run a political system. The Europeans run it that way,” Justice Scalia said. “And if the American people want to do it, I suppose they can enact that by statute. But to say that’s what the Constitution requires is utterly absurd.”

Ascuze me?

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Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013

We’ve seen a lot – a LOT – of legislation introduced at the state and federal levels that have been designed to limit people’s access to safe, legal abortion. With Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme court disallowed many types of restrictions that would prohibit people from obtaining abortions. But as we have seen in the past several years, anti-abortion proselytizers have found and abused a major loophole: while still allowing legal abortion, it has been possible to limit access to abortion by closing down abortion clinics via regulatory technicalities. Their hope is that by making abortions harder to obtain, there will be fewer abortions. The laws in which these technicalities are housed are referred to by pro-choice advocates as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Clinics, or TRAP laws.

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Absentee Voting

This November 6th marks the first time that I will be out of my precinct during general elections. I freaked out a bit when I realized this yesterday; I have never done absentee voting. Since the election is less than two weeks away my first thought was that I’d be too late to turn around a mail-in ballot. But a Google search for “Absentee Voting Minneapolis” gave me all the information I needed to make a decision about how to cast my absentee vote.

I chose to vote in person at Minneapolis City Hall. The Hubby has the week off, so he agreed to drive me downtown today. I could have easily taken public transportation, but this helped save me a few precious minutes so I could get down there, vote, and get to work on time.

I walked into City Hall and was immediately helped by one of the election office clerks. She had me fill out a brief absentee ballot application, then gave me my ballot and a manila envelope. I went to the privacy booth, marked my choices, sealed the ballot in the envelope and returned to the desk. The clerk then placed the manila envelope containing my ballot into a second envelope that was marked with my absentee voter information and filed it away until it can be counted (I think she mentioned they start tabulating votes after 5pm on Friday 11/2/12).

For me, this was a super easy process. Don’t be afraid to vote absentee! You do not have to be pre-registered. If you need a non-traditional voting alternative, do check out your local options.

Seeing the ballot was a bit surreal. I was especially struck by the Constitutional Amendment sections. Seeing the language on the ballot that I have been speaking about with friends and family and strangers for the past several months made my heart skip. There it was – the moment when I was able to make my stand on issues that I feel so strongly about. It was all I could do to keep from driving my pen through the paper as I covered every millimeter of the NO circles with dark black ink.

It was moving. Even as an activist who works to dispel this myth, some days in the far back corner of my mind I hear a whisper that tells me I can’t make a difference. But today there was no whisper. I felt empowered and I felt that my voice would be heard. Because I know that there are a lot of our voices out there. I felt connected to all of you who will join me in voting against discrimination in the next week and a half. This election cycle we’re going to make history.

Stay Classy, Senator Dan Hall

Dan Hall is a Minnesota state senator representing District 40, which includes areas of Burnsville and Bloomington. He’s a Republican and was one of 38 senators to co-sponsor and support MN SF 1308, the constitutional amendment to recognize marriage solely between one man and one woman.

Attempting to restrict the rights of the people you represent  is gross. Thumbing your nose at them on Twitter using your professional account is just plain nasty:

Get that? If you plan on voting no on Senator Hall’s constitutional amendment you’re not a Real American™. Because implying that your constituents who disagree with you are anti-American is AWESOME. And professional. And a viewpoint I’m looking for in a government representative and civil servant.

And he hasn’t taken it down! A later tweet says “Everyone seems touchy when I give them my observation. U read into it what U want, but no one is calling anyone unpatriotic.”

You’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking. Of course no elected official in this day and age would accuse another US citizen of being un-American, right?

6 O’Clock BS – Carpooling

6 O’Clock BS – Today I learned about China.

I have a new carpool mate. I love carpools because I drive about 45 miles round-trip every day and sharing the ride (and the gas) is convenient. I hate carpools because you don’t always end up with the carpool mate you’d like. I like carpools because I get one to three additional cars off of the road, and that’s good for the environment and the roads. I hate carpools because I don’t get to listen to my atheist/skeptic/political podcasts.

My first carpool ever was with two young male professionals. One was laid back and casual, in that professional, don’t share too much way. The other lived for Jesus. He was young, hip, a bit of a goof and very friendly; we got along rather well all things considered. But he tried to get us to listen to bible readings (“It’s totally cool if you don’t want to, but it’s what I usually listen to during my drive and I think they make interesting stories and good conversation). He also believes in the whole “wife is to husband as husband is to god” family dynamic. His family believes that it is his wife’s place and responsibility to share her opinions and knowledge with her husband, but that ultimately it is his responsibility to make final decisions. He and his wife don’t use birth control; they believe that god will send them as many children as he sees fit. They’re up to four now. These are not ideas I can overlook in a friend, and when the carpool eventually ended it was a bit of a relief.

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6 O’Clock BS – Work Silliness

Today’s 6 O’Clock BS centers around silly work stuff:

Another edition of “Scientists Know How To Have A Good Time”

I was reading an article from Clinical Chemistry (45: 616-618, 1999) and thought this was a funny sentence:

“We enjoyed reading the interesting article entitled, “False increase in C-reactive protein attributable to heterophilic antibodies in two renal transplant patients treated with rabbit antilymphocyte globulin”, by Benoist et al. (1) in this Journal.”

Because who wouldn’t enjoy reading that? Enjoyable and interesting. I looked it up; you guys don’t know what you’re missing. Boogie down y’all.

Another edition of “Things That Don’t Go Over Too Well” 

“There’s a little bit more of art than science to these things.” – HR guy trying to roll out a new performance review program to a room full of scientists.

Another edition of “I <3 Gary Trudeau So Freaking Much”

Okay, I couldn’t find a way to tie this one into the work theme…Oh wait – I read the comic during work and comics are silly = work silliness! We’re good to go. Except, this one isn’t funny or silly. This week Trudeau is running a series that points out how not-silly the beating up of a gay kid by a presidential candidate is, and how pathetic said candidate’s runaround with the press has been:

Visit the Doonesbury website for the rest of this week’s strips.

You Pagans With Your “Earth Days”!

The Dinkus of the Day award goes to Representative Mary Franson from Minnesota District 11B (covers a large swath of central eastern side of the state).

Image Source 

“It absolutely infuriates me, celebration of a Pagan holiday, worship of Nature and not God’s nature,” Alexandria Representative Franson tweeted on Earth Day.”

Yup. She tweeted that on Earth Day. You can watch the Kare11 story here. Back in March Mary Franson got in hot water when she compared food stamp recipients with how you shouldn’t feed wild animals because then they’ll never learn how to feed themselves:

Hey look! Another conservative who has figured out the formula:

Say despicable things about human beings + God is Great =

Instant Media Superstar!

I wonder where she got the idea that that would work?

I Don’t Want To Vote On Marriage Law

I have a problem with the majority voting on the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of the minority. It doesn’t matter which groups we are discussing when we say the “majority” and “minority”; what we have are two sets of people – human beings – that are different in some way.

Legislation can be introduced to help define and clarify, to put in black and white, what we hold to be universal human rights, but even without these laws in place, they are called universal human rights because we know that these are so basic, so beyond reproach or question that laws are almost superfluous. Almost. The majority can become blind to the minority. This can lead to a belief that the differences that define the the minority are somehow a threat to that which defines the majority, or that the differences of the minority are undesirable because they’re not shared by most people. And so laws can act as a safeguard for the rights of the minority for cases in which their voices cannot be heard over the crowd.

I think it is horrific that we allow any human being to have their rights curtailed by the whimsy of popular opinion. That is one of the reasons I am angry about this November’s ballot initiative in Minnesota, which leaves it up to us, the voters, to amend the Minnesota Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Other reasons that I’m angry about the proposal include the traditional objections to polluting our constitution with language that would bar citizens from their rights, because I support human happiness and this amendment would hurt gay human beings, and because I detest the political drama and fear-mongering that is caused by this American Idol-esque “let the people have a say” and “down with activist judges” posturing.

So why are we voting on whether Bob and Steve should be allowed to get married? Well, because bigoted, sex-obsessed, fearful, religious zealot nutjobs…oh, we’ll skip that for now. Let’s just go with this:

Some people (see past sentence) want to amend the constitution to “protect” heterosexual marriage from gay people, and they think the best way to do this is to amend the constitution. Per Article IX of the MN Constitution we, the voters, must approve any changes to the constitution. That’s why we’re voting on Bob and Steve’s rights this November.

But why do the bigoted, sex-obsessed, oops some people want to amend the constitution? Why is the law in the Minnesota Statutes not enough? Judges refer to the Constitution to make decisions and rulings. Right now, judges in Minnesota can point to the constitution and say that nowhere in our Constitution does it explicitly ban the marriage of gay people. This amendment would put language in place that would explicitly ban the marriage of gay people. Several states have already used the lack of this language in their constitutions to overturn statutes that ban gay marriage, thus making gay marriage legal in those states. Some people in Minnesota are trying to prevent that from happening in this state.

This is marriage law that we’re discussing, not theology. Churches can be as restrictive as they want about marriage within the confines of their religion, but every resident of Minnesota should have the right to be treated as equal to every other resident of Minnesota under Minnesota law.

So no, I don’t want to vote on the proposed amendment that would make it very difficult for gay residents to marry in Minnesota. And I don’t want you to be able to either.

But if it is there when I step into the voting booth in Novemeber, I will be voting NO, the Minnesota Constitution SHALL NOT be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.

….

And in light all of that, this is a heartening development from Friday:

From The Colu.mn:

Legislators Propose Repeal of Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

DFL legislators in the Minnesota House introduced a bill during the legislative recess on Friday to repeal a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage from the 2012 ballot. The bill faces high hurdles as the Republicans still control the House.

Here’s text of the bill:

H.F. No. 1885, as introduced – 87th Legislative Session (2011-2012) Posted on Jan 13, 2012

A bill for an act relating to marriage; repealing a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution recognizing marriage as only a union between one man and one woman;repealing Laws 2011, chapter 88.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1. REPEALER.

Laws 2011, chapter 88, is repealed.

Sec. 2. EFFECTIVE DATE.
Section 1 is effective the day following final enactment.

The bill was submitted by Karen Clark of Minneapolis, Leon Lillie of North St. Paul, Kate Knuth of New Brighton, Rena Moran of St. Paul ; Marion Greene of Minneapolis, John Lesch of St. Paul, Mindy Greiling of Roseville, Carolyn Laine of Columbia Heights, Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, Alice Hausman of St. Paul, Linda Slocum of Minneapolis, Joe Mullery of Minneapolis, Phyllis Kahn of Minneapolis, Dianne Loeffler of Minneapolis, Frank Hornstein of Minneapolis, Bill Hilty of Finlayson and Kathy Brynaert of Mankato

Props for the effort, but as the article points out, this is likely not going to get anywhere since the Republicans control the House, and the seated Republicans are fairly united in their support of the amendment:

Those in red boxes are Republican legislators. Source