Boehner triples Defense of Marriage Act legal budget

What a hypocrite. After practically taking our government hostage with his deficit hysteria, House Speaker John Boehner decides that bigotry isn’t getting enough money. He has tripled the legal budget of DOMA to 1.5 million dollars. Yes, over a million of our tax payer dollars are now being used to defend an unconstitutional law that discriminates against gay and lesbian couples – the same couples who are paying those taxes.

Hey, Boehner? When we say we need to create jobs, we don’t mean a couple of jobs for a couple of despicable lawyers who will make the homophobes of America sleep better at night.

Raaaaaaaaaaaaage.

I adopted a kitten!

My roommate and I have adopted a kitten! We got her at the Seattle Animal Shelter. She’s a three month old Lynx Colorpoint Shorthair, which basically means she has the same dark areas as a Siamese, but she has tabby stripes in those areas. She is so cuddly I had a hard time pouring her food because she wouldn’t stop nuzzling my hands the whole time, and she loves cuddling up on our laps and happily being held. She is freaking adorable:

There will probably be no intelligent posts for the remainder of the week, as per the xkcd law of Cat Proximity:

She doesn’t have a name yet, so suggestions are welcome!

Support Freethought Blogs by helping teachers and their students

Donors Choose is an amazing charity that helps fund projects for public school classrooms across the US. The fact that we need such a charity to make sure our children receive a proper education is depressing. Some classrooms, especially in areas with high poverty, don’t have the money to provide supplies as basic as pencils for their students – students who are on state subsidized lunches which may be the only decent meal they get all day. Others want their students to experience the same inspiring projects – like dissections or growing your own garden – as affluent schools, but need extra help. Donor’s Choose vets the projects to make sure they’re not a scam, and you make a donation to improve the education of these young students.

This cause is especially important to me for two reasons. One, both of my parents were teachers (they’re now retired). My dad taught high school history and special ed in a Chicago public school for 38 years, and my mom taught middle school art for over 30 years. I know they always went above and beyond for their classroom, and I can only imagine how much they spent out-of-pocket for extra supplies to enrich their teaching experience. Two, I was lucky enough to attend a very affluent school system. I want all students to have the chance to have the same experiences I did, because I know those experiences shaped me into a freethinker, a scientist, and a thoughtful human being.

It’s also a bit of a competition. All of the science blogging networks are competing against each other. Let’s show places like Science Blogs and Scientopia that Freethought Blogs is the awesomest! Or show the other Freethought Bloggers that Blag Hag is the awesomest of the awesomest – you can donate using the widget over at the top of the right column.

I’ve hand-picked the projects because they have some sort of personal meaning to me. You can donate to whichever fits your fancy, but in case you’re motivated by my reasoning, read on:

  • Building a Community of Learners Through Mosiac - Like I mentioned, my mother was an art teacher. Art is a huge part of my life, and it truly enriched my learning experience. I found it helped me with science, too – it made me a creative thinker, helped me plan ahead (art projects aren’t always spontaneous!), and gave me graphical abilities that really helps when it comes to presenting your research. This project is also near my home town in Indiana.
  • Science Olympiad Rocks! - Science Olympiad is an academic competition that I competed in for 4 years, and later volunteered for when I was in college. Students participate in events ranging from tests on genetics, to building a bottle rocket, to forensic investigation. SO was some of the most fun I had in high school, and was one of the main things that motivated me to become a scientist.
  • Fetal Pig Dissection - I’m not going to lie. When I was in AP Biology, the Fetal Pig Dissection grossed me out. But looking back I recognize how valuable it is to have hands-on science experiences like this. Life isn’t something you can learn by just staring at a text book. Bonus: It’s a class of all girls, and we need more lady scientists!
  • Women and Hands-on Science - Speaking of lady scientists… Heck, do I even have to explain? More lady scientists. MORE!
  • Help Deserving Student Have a True Biology Experience - Time to dissect some frogs! I still remember mine – it was full of eggs.
  • The Magic of Math - Help another all-girls classroom fall in love with mathematics. I wish I would have had something like this when I was younger – I grew up hating math because I was so frustrated while learning it. Maybe if someone had taken a chance and tried a different teaching method like this teacher is doing…
  • Let’s See - This classroom goes on monthly nature walks – how awesome is that?! Help make their trips more awesome by providing them with magnifying glasses and microscopes, so they can get extra close in their explorations.
  • Encouraging Girls to Excel at Mathematics - You know the drill.
  • You Spin Me ‘Round - Dude, this classroom wants to perform its own polymerase chain reaction! I didn’t do PCR until after my freshman year of college. Having hands on experience with genetic fingerprinting will hopefully show these students how awesome genetics is. It’s not just about Punnett Squares!
  • Drosophila Genetics - More awesome genetics experiments! This time the kids get to breed their own fruit flies and look for mutants. MUTANTS! What high schooler doesn’t want to do that?
  • Grow With Science - Okay. Sometimes I harp on how plants are boring. But this was the ONLY proposal on the whole site to mention “natural selection.” I feel like we should reward this teacher so they can have their garden for evolution experiments! Bonus – they’re in Seattle!
  • Those Genes Look Good! - Genetics is a hard concept to understand. You can’t exactly see genes with the naked eye. I know models helped me understand concepts, so help these kids understand too.
  • Evolution Literacy - A primary school teacher who understands the importance of evolution? FUND THIS CLASSROOM STAT!
  • Leaping Lizards! - This classroom in Indiana wants to raise anoles to help them learn about the scientific method. I wish I learned about the scientific method using a tank of cute lizards.
  • Manipulate This! - This classroom is from my home town in Indiana, and they want hands on tools to learn about math. Math didn’t start to click for me until my 5th grade teacher whipped out little cubes and pawns we could manipulate to balance equations. Some of us our visual learners!
  • Highlight Your Learning - Last but not least, this teacher has created a Writer’s Workshop to encourage a love in writing in their students. As a blogger, how could I not support this? It’s also one of the neighboring towns from where I grew up.
Again, you can use the widget to the right or go here to donate. Donations are open until October 22. Thanks so much for helping out!

Indiana could be home to a massive civil rights victory for same-sex couples

That is, if Indiana doesn’t fuck it up. Which I’m sure they will.

Back in August at the Indiana State Fair, the stage collapsed due to unusually high winds, killing and injuring many. One of the people killed was Christina Santiago of Chicago. Christina was a gay rights activist and was in a civil union with her partner Alisha Brennon. Alisha recently filed three lawsuits seeking damages for the death of her partner, but Indiana doesn’t recognize outside same-sex marriages or civil unions because the majority of our lawmakers are a bunch of ignorant bigots elected by a bunch of ignorant bigots.

*deep breath*

Now people in Indiana are starting to sweat. No one wants to be an obvious bigot and enforce these laws, but no one wants the laws deemed unconstitutional, either.

Indiana does not allow civil unions, and it does not recognize same-sex unions from other states. But Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said he will not make civil unions an issue as he defends the state from a federal case filed by Brennon.

“(The state) will seek dismissal of the entire case, but not on the basis of a civil union,” Zoeller said in an email to the Tribune.

“We generally believe it will be up to the Legislature to decide whether to rewrite the laws concerning liability and beneficiaries, and up to the courts to decide how to interpret those laws,” Zoeller said.

[...]As the lawsuits move through Indiana and federal courts, one of the defendants or a judge will ask whether the couple’s civil union was still legal when they crossed the state line, experts said.

“It’s an inevitable legal battle,” said Andrew Koppelman, a professor of family law atNorthwestern University Law School. “It has to happen. They’re going to give her money as this woman’s spouse, so someone has to say whether you get to give it to her or not.”

A judge could raise the issue of whether Brennon’s civil union with Santiago gives her a right to be compensated for the loss of her partner, Koppelman said. If the state won’t raise the issue, one of the other defendants is almost certain to try to use the civil union issue to get the case dismissed, he said.

Donald Gjerdingen, a professor at Indiana University Law School in Bloomington, said that any of the three lawsuits Brennon has filed are certain to evolve from routine wrongful death cases into civil rights battles.

“There are just so many ways this issue could be raised,” Gjerdingen said. “As a case, it is just a perfect example of the issues that come up because of the patchwork of laws that we have and the federal Defense of Marriage Act that took effect in the 1990s.”

Under federal law, marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman. States can create civil unions or other marriage-like legal status for same-sex couples, but the federal law also says no state is required to recognize civil unions from another state, Gjerdingen said.

The situation mirrors the laws that governed interracial marriage in the pre-Civil Rights Era, or varying rules on marriage age or incest, Koppelman said. In the last century, differing laws raised legal questions among states about whether an interracial couple who married in Illinois were considered married in Mississippi, or if a man who married his cousin in one state had committed incest in another.

Courts eventually decided the governing law was whatever the law was in the state where the couple lived.

“When you crossed state lines, your marriage did not turn on and off like a light bulb,” Koppelman said.

Because same-sex unions, and same-sex marriage bans, are relatively new, the case law is not as settled.

If the courts were to make a ruling that changes Indiana’s marriage laws, that could spur other legal action, said Micah Clark, director of the American Family Association of Indiana, a group that led the drive for a defense of marriage amendment in Indiana. “If this were to be a challenge to our marriage laws or start redefining marriage laws, we would certainly get involved in the lawsuit,” he said.

Indiana lawmakers last spring voted in favor of amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage and deny recognition of out-of-state same-sex unions. The amendment must pass a second session of the Legislature, then go to a popular vote, a process that could happen by 2014.

By then, Brennon’s case still could be working its way through the courts, said her attorney, Kenneth Allen.

“We can set precedent that establishes legal rights for lesbian couples in this circumstance, and it can be applied to other contexts,” Allen said. “For those that loved Christina to find any purpose in her death, we had to proceed in this fashion. Otherwise, her death makes no sense at all.”

This will be an interesting legal battle that may set the precedent for states recognizing same-sex marriages and civil unions from other states. I’d be so proud of Indiana happened to be starting point of the Defense of Marriage Act being found unconstitutional. But I have this sinking feeling in my stomach that Indiana is going to disappoint me like it always does.

I can’t turn it off

While walking down the street on a date…

Random woman: …so I’ve been thinking about using something homeopathic to…
Me: *ears perk up* *gives Date the “Someone Just Said Something Very Stupid” look*
Date: *laughs* Down, girl.
Me: But…but… It’s like my superpower.
Date: Your spidey sense tingles whenever someone believes something stupid.
Me: I can’t help it!

More on woman hating

Ben Cochran is a nursing student at East Carolina University. He is also a misogynistic pig. I’ll let him do the talking (emphasis mine):

People go to the doctor when they’re sick.

If you’re a girl, sometimes you go to the doctor to get Pabst beer, or a pap smear, or something like that.

What girl have you ever heard of that goes to a doc in the box for birth control? None of them. They go to their gyno. It’s a matter of efficiency. If you have a lung problem, you see a pulmonologist. If you have a heart problem, you see a cardiologist. If you have a cunt problem, you see a gynecologist.

So I’m sitting in student health the other day, sneezing my friggin eyes out and coughing up green oysters wondering what in the name of great Zeus’s beard is taking so long. I’m just trying to get seen and have this purulent mucus extricated from my hacking body. Half an hour later, I finally see some movement stirring from across the waiting room. A nurse exits with about half a dozen girls, all grinning from ear to ear, bubbly and giggly as if they just scored their first alcohol purchase with a fake id. In their hands they carried what seemed like a solid 36 month’s worth of birth control.

First of all, not even porn stars need that much birth control. Second of all, do you mean to seriously tell me that I’ve been sitting here in misery for the last half an hour just so that this gaggle of preemie sluts could get a free pass on harlotry?

Go read your Redbook in the lobby of a specialist while you get a mani as you wait to get your hatchet wound inspected. Leave student health for those of us that are in actual need of medical attention.

Look, this is a university—an ivory tower of academic prowess. We don’t need to be handing out birth control left and right especially from an on campus location. This is a bastion for the intellectually competent. If you find your talents to lend themselves to a more base and carnal nature, perhaps this just isn’t the place for you.

I don’t take issue with sex mongers. They serve their place. Hell, according to the bible, it’s the oldest known profession on earth. So you sultry sex fiends are clearly established, but this is a place of higher being. Please take your gaping holes elsewhere for medical services, and leave the real health issues to those that actually belong on a college campus.

Heaven forbid you had to suffer through your stupid cold for thirty minutes because women were getting their preventative medicine. Those stupid whores should just accept their God given purpose as baby making machines. Duh. Aren’t you glad this guy is becoming a nurse? Or worse, that this letter could have just as easily been written by many of the people currently running for public office in the US?

A “cleaned up” version was printed in his student newspaper. Though really, it just removed some of the coarse language – the ignorance and hatred is still going strong.

I feel a little bad when I make posts without much commentary or detailed refutation, but sometimes it just doesn’t need it. But if you need a blow by blow take down, another blogger already has it covered.

I have HUMP! tickets!

This is my new favorite yearly tradition:

The Pacific Northwest’s biggest, best, and most beloved amateur-and-locally-produced porn festival returns this fall. …The Stranger and the HUMP!™ 2011 jury invite local filmmakers, actors, kinksters, exhibitionists, and notorious sex-havers to get to work on their films for HUMP!™ 2011. The HUMP!™ jury is composed of local sex experts (ahem), sex-positive film critics, and sex-obsessed porn fans. The HUMP!™ jury looks for hotness, humor, and originality. Films do not have to be slick or professionally produced. They do have to be hot or funny or hot and funny.

NEW PRIZE CATEGORIES: Until 2009, HUMP!™ had two grand prizes: a $2,000 prize for Best Humor and a $2,000 prize for Best Hardcore. But some HUMP!™ audience members complained that the categories were too limiting. How were you supposed to vote if your favorite film wasn’t particularly funny or all that hardcore? So last year we created new prize categories and added more money to the purse:

    • Best Humor: $1,000 First Prize, $500 First Runner-Up Prize
    • Best Sex: $1,000 First Prize, $500 First Runner-Up Prize
    • Best Kink: $1,000 First Prize, $500 First Runner-Up Prize

And…

  • Best in Show: $4,000 Grand Prize

Prizes will still be awarded by audience ballot. It’s possible that a film could win more than one prize and that a single film—perhaps a hilariously kinky film with a scorching-hot sex scene?—could sweep the HUMP!™ Awards! It’s like the Oscars™ with Orgasms™.

This year’s extra credit props are the number 7, super soakers, and duct tape. I’m already a little wary of the super soakers and duct tape. But I absolutely loved it last year (NSFW), so I can’t wait.