Creationism bill passes Indiana Senate

Newflash! 28 out of 50 Indiana state Senators are still complete morons (emphasis mine):

On January 31, 2012, the Indiana Senate voted 28-22 in favor of Senate Bill 89. As originally submitted, SB 89 provided, “The governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.” On January 30, 2012, however, it was amended in the Senate to provide instead, “The governing body of a school corporation may offer instruction on various theories of the origin of life. The curriculum for the course must include theories from multiple religions, which may include, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology.”

The Senate spent less than twenty minutes considering the bill, with its sponsor Dennis Kruse (R-District 14) defending it. Kruse acknowledged that the bill would be constitutionally problematic but, he told the education blogger at the Indianapolis Star (January 31, 2012), “This is a different Supreme Court,” adding, “This Supreme Court could rule differently.” The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana’s legal director Ken Falk was previously quoted in a story from the Associated Press (January 26, 2012) as saying that the bill is clearly unconstitutional and invites lawsuits: moreover, he added, “when lawmakers propose legislation they clearly know will end up in the courts, it wastes time and resources.”

[...] The bill now proceeds to the Indiana House of Representatives, where its sponsors are Jeff Thompson (R-District 28) and Eric Turner (R-District 32), who is also the house speaker pro tem. Thompson, interestingly, is also a cosponsor, along with Cindy Noe (R-District 87), of House Bill 1140, which would require teachers to discuss “commonly held competing views” on topics “that cannot be verified by scientific empirical evidence.” While evolution is not mentioned in the bill, Noe cohosted a controversial dinner at the Creation Evidence Expo in Indianapolis in 2009according to the Fort Wayne Reader (August 23, 2010). In any case, HB 1140 seems to have died in committee.

…You know, I got nothing. I dealt with this idiotic crap for the 22 years I lived in Indiana, and I’m running out of new material. Now it’s just time to get the popcorn and watch the stupidity play out.

The only reason I wish I still lived in Indiana is so I could be the one to petition for Pastafarianism.

Indiana Senate committee approves creationist legislation

My dad emailed me this news report with the quote “Another reason to be glad you’re not living in Indiana.” From NWI Times (our local newspaper!):

An Indiana Senate committee on Wednesday endorsed teaching creationism in public schools, despite pleas from scientists and religious leaders to keep religion out of science classrooms.

Senate Bill 89 allows school corporations to authorize “the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life” and specifically mentions “creation science” as one such theory.

State Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, who voted for the measure, said if there are many theories about life’s origins, students should be taught all of them.

But John Staver, professor of chemistry and science education at Purdue University, said evolution is the only theory of life that relies on empirical evidence from scientific investigations.

“Creation science is not science,” Staver said. “It is unquestionably a statement of a specific religion.”

The Rev. Charles Allen, head of Grace Unlimited, an Indianapolis campus ministry, said students would be served better by teaching religion comparatively, rather than trying to “smuggle it in” to a science course.

The Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee nevertheless voted 8-2 to send the legislation to the full Senate.

What? Indiana is being backwards and ignorant? I am shocked – shocked, I say!

Dear Indiana legislators,

What you are doing is unconstitutional. That is not an opinion of mine – the Supreme court decided this in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987). Your attempt to weasel Christianity into public science classrooms is going to fail. You can either choose to vote it down now, or you can waste years of time and money in a pointless legal battle. Not to mention your continued efforts to destroy science make intelligent young people like me dying to evacuate the state and never come back. You wonder why you have a brain drain? This is it.

Indiana voters – figure out your Senate district here and send your state Senator a reminder about why creationism has no place in a science classroom.

More religious legislation from Indiana

Pushing creationism into science classrooms wasn’t enough, so now there’s legislation to require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day. Yes, public school. It’s all in Senate Bill 251, which states:

4.6. (a) In order that each student recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen, the governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school may require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day. The prayer may be recited by a teacher, a student, or the class of students.
(b) If the governing body or equivalent authority requires the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer under subsection (a), the governing body or equivalent authority shall determine the version of the Lord’s Prayer that will be recited in the school corporation or charter school.
(c) A student is exempt from participation in the prayer if:
(1) the student chooses not to participate; or
(2) the student’s parent chooses to have the student not participate.

1. Spiritual development has nothing to do with establishing character and becoming a good student. From all of the atheist Hoosiers, fuck you.

2. This has been established as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court so many times. SO MANY TIMES. Are these legislators thinking no one is paying attention? Even I have a hard time believing they’re stupid enough to A) Not know how fucking unconstitutional this is or B) Think they have any chance of the current Supreme Court overturning the previous rulings.

3. Adding an exemption clause does not suddenly make this constitutional. It’s still the government endorsing a religion (and a particular religion at that). Not to mention that it’s completely ignorant of the power dynamics of schools. A student who chooses not to participate is effectively choosing social suicide and bullying. Ask Jessica Ahlquist how much she enjoys losing all of her friends and constantly receiving threats. It’s effectively making it so students must participate.

Unsurprisingly, this piece of legislation comes from the same guy who’s pushing the creationist legislation. Way to force your Christian agenda onto the state, asshole. As if it wasn’t already oppressively Christian in an unofficial way.

If you’re an Indiana citizen, please write your representatives. And if you’re in an Indiana atheist organization, please make a stink about this. This is your chance to get in the media and yell “This is not okay!”

You know, I was invited to speak for my alma mater the Purdue Non-Theists during my spring break in March. Maybe I could make a little tour of the state with the topic of “The Indiana Theocracy.” Heaven knows I have enough examples for an hour long talk. Any other groups interested in having me should shoot me an email.

Indiana DEFINITELY isn’t perfect

At least Seattle limits its scientific ignorance to a piece of bad journalism. Indiana has anti-evolution legislation bubbling up:

Senate Bill 89, prefiled in the Indiana Senate and referred to the Committee on Education and Career Development, would, if enacted, amend the Indiana Code to provide that “[t]he governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.” The sponsor of the bill is Dennis Kruse (R-District 14), who chairs the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development. In 1999, while serving in the Indiana House of Representatives, Kruse pledged to introduce a law to remove evolution from the state’s science standards, according to the South Bend Tribune (August 27, 1999). Instead, however, he introduced bills with the same wording as Senate Bill 89, House Bill 1356 in 2000 and House Bill 1323 in 2001. Both died in committee.

It’s irritating enough that people want to legislate their religion into science classrooms. But this is obviously unconstitutional and has no chance of surviving a legal battle. Stop wasting the time and money of Hoosiers and focus on issues that actually matter.

…One day, one day I will receive positive news from my home state.

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.

Oh Purdue

I feel like I should fight this, saying there’s only room for one internet meme to come out of Purdue…but it involves cute guys being stupid, so I can’t resist:

My thought of “And then they fell and snapped their necks” flitted away once I laughed at the guy hanging off the Amelia Earhart statue outside of the dorm I lived in for a year.

How to speak Hoosier

These videos crack me up. Not every dialect oddity applies to me since I grew up closer to Chicago, but it is pretty stereotypical for the rest of Indiana:

…I do this all the time. I always have to edit “anyways” down to “anyway” when I’m blogging. Mumble “prolly” instead of “probably.” And I learned from this video that it’s Meijer, not Meijer’s. Dammit.

Pop is the correct way, not soda. … and I have to try really, really hard not to pronounce “milk” as “melk.” I’ve given up pronouncing eggs correctly – they will forever be aygs for me.

Damn youuuuu Indiana!

Indiana hits new low of homophobic bigotry

UPDATE: From the original source: “Alfarena Ballew from the Marion County Coroner’s office called to offer this statement, “Her friend and her aunt are working together with the life partner to take care of the remains. We have nothing in writing from the partner asking to claim the body. Our records show that the next of kin is her aunt. Our understanding now is that they’re all working together to release the body and take care of the services.” Ms. Ballew described the incident as a “misunderstanding” and says the office is on track to release the body shortly.
This weekend the main performance stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed during unusually high winds, killing five and injuring 40. You probably already heard about this, since terrifying videos of the stage crushing concert goers quickly went viral. Due to the quick emergency response and bravery of people in the audience, many lives were saved. And thankfully none of my friends or family were harmed in the incident.

But for those who lost their loved ones, you’d hope they can eventually move on from this tragedy through mourning and memorial services. Unless you’re a lesbian, in which case Indiana says Fuck You:

When a stage collapsed during the Indiana State Fair over the weekend, Christina Santiago, manager of programming for the Lesbian Community Care Project at Chicago’s Howard Brown Health Center, was one of the casualties. Santiago’s partner, Alisha Brennon, was also injured in the tragedy.

The Marion County coroner’s office is refusing to release Santiago’s body to her partner; the office cited the Defense of Marriage Act as the reason why they’ve turned down Brennon’s request to pick up her loved one’s remains. DOMA allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Indiana has its own version of DOMA that outlaws same-sex marriage. Since Indiana law requires the next-of-kin to pick up Santiago’s body, but the state won’t recognize Brennon as the surviving spouse, Santiago’s body is still laying in the morgue awaiting a solution. Brennon, who is still hospitalized, is now working with Santiago’s aunt to pick up the body and make funeral arrangements.

Nausiating. It shames me to be associated with this state at all. Dan Savage already put it best:

This is what DOMA is designed to do. DOMA does nothing to strengthen traditional marriages. It doesn’t prevent straight couples from divorcing or make straight couples any more likely to take responsibility for their children. The federal DOMA and all the mini-DOMAs enacted by the states only serve to torment and persecute gay people at the most trying moments of their lives: when a partner is ill, when a child is sick, when a partner dies. And people who claim to be Christians will howl the loudest if DOMA is repealed.

When are we going to move out of these dark ages?

Another Hoosier Hypocrite

Indiana State Representative Phillip Hinkle (R, of course) was caught soliciting craigslist for a gay prostitute using his public email address. And if you were wondering – yes, he’s a good married Christian who opposes gay marriage. Such a good Christian, in fact, that he’s the person who forced the In God We Trust license plates on the state.

Before those plates just made me giggle whenever I saw a driver with them breaking some sort of traffic law or being an all-around asshole. Now they’re a symbol of Christian hypocrisy. Nice.