Political manderings

The fight continues in Texas; Homophobia is a punishable offense, yet legislators march on in opposition to the already underway 21st century; Some guy named Stephen on homeschooling.

Mary Helen Berlanga is the senior member of the Texas Board of Education. She is warning Texas citizens of impending fights on the board regarding a number of issues, including evolution.

She asked her constituents to travel to Austin next week to speak out against proposed amendments outside consultants are pushing for that she says exclude Hispanics and other minorities from classroom instruction.

Intelligent design is the school of thought that says there are parts of nature too complex to be dismissed as random chance and that evolution must have been guided by a higher power. In previous interviews, Berlanga said schools should stick to teaching evolution because intelligent design too close to teaching religion in school.

The Texas Freedom Network “Network News” winter edition outlines “The Battle Ahead” regarding evolution in the Lone Star State.

More than 80 years since the Scopes “Monkey” trial, this country just can’t seem to get past battles over religion and science. What’s more, all of these recent stories are only prelude to a much bigger fi ght over science education set to begin in Texas in 2008.

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Jason Fiske is currently serving a rather light 22 year sentence for murding a gay man. The light sentence is because he was allowed to cop a plea to manslaughter. The victim

Hale’s body was found in a Montrose park in July 2005, weeks after he had gone to police to complain he had been threatened because he was gay.

Hernandez, Fiske and Hale had been at a bar. Hernandez told investigators he wanted to beat up Hale because Hale had made sexual advances toward him, authorities said.

The day after the slaying, Fiske told police he placed Hale in a choke hold while breaking up a fight between the other two men. The arrest affidavit said Fiske told police he thought Hale was unconscious when they left him in the park.

An autopsy showed Hale died of strangulation, and that he had methamphetamine and an epilepsy medication in his system.

LGBT groups called for hate-crime charges, but prosecutors declined to do so saying robbery was the real motive for the killing. Hale’s wallet containing $8 was missing when the body was discovered.

Fiske is now seeking a reduced sentence, because 22 years is steep for manslaughter. Details here.

Back in Texas, two police officers are in trouble for anti-gay remarks. One officer is said to have made the remarks and the other failed to report this transgression.

Cmdr. Calvin Smith,… newly appointed supervisor of the Austin police training academy, told outgoing supervisor Cmdr. Larry Oliver that he was worried about the “kind of message” the potential transfer of a gay female officer would send at the academy the Austin American Statesman reported.

Smith later denied the woman a transfer to his command. Oliver, following that, mentioned the conversation that Smith had had with him to another female officer and a complaint was filed with internal affairs.

“Commander Smith’s opinion concerning the sexual orientation of these employees, and their assignment within the Austin Police Department, exhibited a personal bias, was inappropriate, and failed to demonstrate an impartial attitude required by Austin police employees,” the papers said.

The disciplinary papers also noted that Oliver told investigators that he was “pretty taken aback” by the comment.

“I’ve reported discriminatory statements in the past to my chain of command,” according to the papers obtained by The Statesman. “I just didn’t do it this time, and it was an oversight on my part.”

Smith agreed to a 20 day suspension but Oliver refused to accept a 30-day suspension for not reporting the incident.

He was subsequently fired. It is not known if he will appeal….

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania,

The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee passed a proposed amendment to the state constitution Tuesday that would ban both same-sex marriage and civil unions.

The measure was approved on a 10-4 vote. It still needs approval in the full Senate and in the House. It would then need to be approved again by both houses in the next session of the legislature before being put to voters.

Pennsylvania already has a law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. Supporters of the amendment say they fear it could be overturned by a judge.


  1. #1 Pierce R. Butler
    March 19, 2008

    Please clarify, so that an obsessive former copy editor will have a chance to get to sleep tonight:

    Are the above items “meanderings” or “maunderings”?

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    March 19, 2008

    Manderings. As in Jerry.