29 February 2012

Race-Based Vandalism at Purdue

I haven't yet touched the subject of the incident of race-based vandalism at Purdue. I haven't written about it here, haven't written about it to the Exponent, and only made about one comment concerning it on Facebook. I have been thinking about how I feel best to respond to this event, and I think I finally know how I want to talk about it. I think this unfortunate event is important, I just haven't compiled my thoughts completely on the subject to write about it. Yet I think I need to discuss it, because of what it means for Purdue.

Racial bias is nothing new to people at Purdue. People keep touting that Purdue is somehow diverse, yet I can't help but feel it isn't. If you want numbers, they can be found here. While I could compare these numbers to state and national averages, discuss the gender disparity, et cetera, I don't think that makes a point that people listen to. I don't think people listen to that kind of argument. They will find a way to write it off (probably through victim blaming), and we will get nowhere.

What this race-based vandalism represents, to me, is another incident of disillusionment with Purdue. Another case I can add to those I have discussed (and not discussed) about how Purdue isn't inclusive. People say they are shocked by this, that this doesn't represent how Purdue feels to the "us'es," and how this is a rare occurrence. I will venture to say that this isn't rare. Vandalism based on the categories in Purdue's nondiscrimination policy is common, at least from my experiences. It is clear that university memory is short. I haven't heard anybody bring up the painted tree incident in 2008. While that event was a while ago, it was another case of reported and discussed race-based vandalism. That reported and discussed part are important, as I feel most of these events are ignored or not reported.

I have discussed vandalism before. Fliers removed. Display cases written on. Words scrapped off of window painting. I haven't even discussed the dorms, which I think we can all imagine what kind of things are written on people's whiteboards. I don't feel going into depth about this as a systematic problem will help much either. I thus want to address the issue as follows:

What I want to see come out of this event of vandalism is something substantial. With the painted tree incident, CORE came to fruition. CORE has meant a lot of a number of minority student groups (I at least can speak from my own experience with LGBTQ issues). These bias events are far too common. The vast majority of them are just ignored, or not reported. What I really would like to see is this event being used to push out the new online bias reporting. From what I have seen, people haven't been discussing this system. Online bias reporting is a huge deal. Yet it isn't being discussed. It needs to be. People need to talk about it. The university needs to advertise it. From my perspective, that has not been done. Purdue's president sent out an email to every student at Purdue. That would have been a prime opportunity to get this online bias reporting out to the students. It could have been a, "We had this incident. Let's do something about it. Report bias incidents." Let's get the bias reporting system out there. Let's make it a habit for people to report. That will help us get an idea of how truly deep and common bias incidents are at Purdue. That will also give people the tools they need to do something about it. Let's make the message from this clear - Purdue won't tolerate bias incidents, and we will start with making sure those incidents are reported.

To report a bias incident at Purdue, use this webform.

20 February 2012

Exponent reporting on Problem of God LGBTQ issue session

The Purdue Exponent today ran an article on the "Problem of God" symposium event concerning LGBTQ issues (my post on this event here). I have a number of problems with this article.


First, and least important, just because the event chose to use the word "homosexual" does not mean that is the proper term for the newspaper. The heterosexism present in the event should have clued the reporter in to the fact that the language chosen by some speakers may not be the preferred terminology (and that they should look up the best practices). Every group has the right to define their own identity, and journalism generally accepts these guidelines. Reporters of the Exponent should be aware of best practices, such as the following:


Gay - Used to describe men and women attracted to the same sex, though lesbian is the more common term for women. Preferred over homosexual. (Christian, D., S. Jacobsen, D. Minthorn. 2008. 2008 Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. Associated Press. New York, NY: The Associated Press)
Secondly, I dislike that the Exponent chooses to include the statement by Chi Alpha's Linda Seiler that blames LGBTQ identity on individuals' relationship with their parents. This claim is inaccurate. There are plenty of other statements from her that could have been included. Unless the goal of including this detail was to point out the ignorance illustrated by two of the speakers at the event this statement should not have been included. The misinformation at this event was startling, and work should be done to counter that misinformation rather than further spread it.


Finally, the Exponent barely discusses any rebuttal of the remarks made by the two anti-LGBTQ speakers, as the only statement they have involving the pro-LGBTQ speaker was that he has struggled with this issue. The Exponent then goes on to act as if a reasonable diversity of Christian views was presented when they state, "These perspectives approached the issue of homosexuality differently." To think that this event somehow presented "both sides" is laughable. The Christian Faculty Staff Network did not try to present both sides. Including one pro-LGBTQ speaker, and two anti-LGBTQ speakers (with the main speaker being clearly anti-LGBTQ, spreading much anti-LGBTQ misinformation, and the keynote being anti-LGBTQ) is not presenting both sides. The Network involved was using a common tactic to attempt to make the pro-LGBTQ argument look weak, where they give two speakers that share their views the bulk of the time and then give only one speaker a short chance to attempt to rebuttal. I understand that the Exponent can't really call them out on this, but they could at least either represented the disparity or noted more of the pro-LGBTQ discussion.

Exponent article aside, let's be honest about this event - it was focused on presenting an anti-LGBTQ message and was not intended to give both sides fair representation. In no way was the diversity of Christianity's views on LGBTQ identity presented. Mark Thomas was given neither the time nor the climate to refute the misinformation presented by the bulk of the event. I am disappointed in the organizations that put on this event. I hope that the audience saw through the guise presented.

19 February 2012

The Problem of God Symposium - Religious Pluralism

On Saturday I attended two sessions of a Christian symposium on campus entitled, "The Problem of God." I described the first session I attended, on LGBTQ issues, in my previous post. The second session I choose to attend was, "The Problem of Religious Diversity: Why All Religions Can't Be True... Or Can They?" I didn't really choose the best session. I was hoping this session would be about epistemology, the religious knowledge groups have, et cetera. Instead, it was an attempt to say that only one religion could be correct and that one religion is Christianity (I know, the sponsoring organizations should have made this obvious to me right away but it didn't). I personally feel it was a weak session, but I will still discuss what I heard. Overall, I actually think the session made me ever more of a religious pluralist than I already was, because the session seemed to illustrated religious exclusivism as essentially an attempt to justify to one's self that their religion is correct over all others using only self-assuring evidence.

The session opened with a poll where we txted a number based on our understanding going in. Five options were presented, essentially being that (1) plurality in the sense that all religions are wrong, (2) plurality in the sense that all religions are right, (3) no position or not in these categories, (4) exclusivism though other religions can have aspects that are correct, and (5) exclusivism and only one religion is correct at all. I choose the first option, and pretty much all the other choices were four and five with four dominating.

The speaker presented three reasons why people like pluralism being: it doesn't seem judgemental, it affirms the goodness of people, and it avoids condemnation. When he opened the floor I added that there are multiple ways of knowing, and it was also added that if you stand on direct knowledge, others can reject what you think based on their own direct knowledge. The speaker then went on to talk about why he rejects pluralism.

He first tried to argue against what he called the "Bones Argument." The idea here is that science has shown religion to be nothing more than a survival mechanism. He brought up some study about serotonin release due to religious experience, and claimed this didn't show anything as people could be experiencing something true and spiritual. He somehow seemed to forget in the process that all religions are experiencing this and not just Christianity, so if they are experiencing something real that ALL religions are experiencing something truly spiritual. He then brought up some psuedoscience by one of the intelligent design groups, and his basis for rejecting science was that it did present one of the hypotheses as god causing the experience. He then claims that science is somehow attacking the person and not the idea. A bit of the Christian persecution complex was tossed in with all of this, and a distrust of science including how scientists handle data was present.

The next argument he dealt with was Hick's argument. He presented this argument to say that all religions essentially seek to make people better people and to experience reality, and that we just don't have the lingo-cultural ability to express this reality. In this sense all religions are the same. He used this odd argument involving blind people and an elephant to try to dispute this line of thinking. The argument involved blind people each feeling a small portion of the elephant and claiming it is one thing or the other, when in all actuality it is an elephant. To me, this only seemed to support Hick's argument, as all religions are thus getting at some aspect of reality, but don't have enough information to give the full reality. The speaker also claimed that to believing any one religious claim required the rejection of all others. I only partially agree with him here. When religions are standing firm on some ideas - Christ being the son of god, Mohammad being the last prophet of Allah, gods requiring sacrifice to quench their thirst for blood, et cetera - these ideas could be mutually exclusive. A religion that requires animal sacrifice when compared to a religion that holds killing any animal to be a sin are obviously contradicting each other. Yet large aspects of religion could easily be integrated, especially if these other aspects of religion are seen as trivial. The teachings of Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammad, John Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, et cetera don't necessarily have to contradict, especially when you start saying things are parables or metaphors. His argument that religions naturally exclude each other requires each religion to be viewed in a literalist sense. If we reject the literal interpretation of religion, then it isn't hard to see how they could all work together, at least from my perspective. I guess in this sense his talk made me more of a religious pluralist because I believe aspects of religion, when not literal, can work together to inform us about life. Buddha's teachings about the non-existence of self, Jesus' teachings about compassion, and even L. Ron Hubbard's teachings about the long lasting affects of pain and suffering, when taken in figurative senses, are useful teachings. (I just want to add a side note that these people don't actually have to have existed at all for their teachings to be useful either).

His next subject was why he likes exclusivism, or the belief that religious beliefs are either true or false. He thinks these are supported by the laws of thought. We were not really told what these laws of thought were or how exclusivism fits them, so I can't really talk much on this point. I am just going to assume that these laws of thought require a lot of assumptions, and I am not going to accept this point without evidence. His second reasoning was that exclusivism requires the serious evaluation of other religious beliefs. I don't exactly get how pluralism does not do this. He tries to say that science just discounts them, even though the point of science is to evaluate knowledge. Of course science doesn't evaluate the supernatural because of the naturalism assumption, but we don't have any reason to assume the supernatural exists that I know of. He also uses some Santa Claus illustration, though this sounded more to me like, "other people know their beliefs are wrong," which is not the case. He also claims that pluralism requires more assumptions. We didn't really get a clear illustration of how, so yet again I am not buying that. Lastly, he claims that the exclusivist viewpoint gives religions more dignity and respect. I am yet again not sure about how this works, we weren't really explained it all that clearly.

After this, he then went on to discuss Christian exclusivism in particular. He defined this as the belief that the god of the Bible is the creator of all things AND that humans are fundamentally different from all other animals. I have to say, this whole "humans aren't animals" point that keeps being made is annoying me. Humans are animals. This isn't a hard concept. We look like apes. We act like apes. Our genetics and the fossil record show over and over again that we are apes. Sure, we have language and have used cultural knowledge transmission to build up a civilization, but that doesn't mean we aren't animals. Plenty of species use tools. Some species of ants have domesticated fungi, and they herd aphids. Dolphins commit suicide. Cultural systems exist in some monkeys. Language is the sole thing I can think of that separates us from the rest of animals, and I think the jury is still out on elephants there. I also don't see any reason to think in the future or on another celestial body that species with or beyond our level of intelligence could evolve. I am thus already rejecting the second part of his statement. He tries to support this with the claim that other species aren't as adaptable and only humans can live everywhere. My first thought involved invasive species, which happen to do just fine in a habitat somewhere that they could not naturally disperse to. There are also a number of cosmopolitan species that do quite well in a wide range of habitats (some rodents, the domesticated cat, some diseases, et cetera). He just really didn't have an argument here, and I assume he is thinking people would just accept anything he said without questioning it.

He spent a while explaining what Christians believe. Yet again, if pressed I can discuss self-identification but otherwise we will avoid that topic. The point that he made that I want to jump to though is that he claims a percentage of religious diversity is rebellion against god. This is just clearly untrue. Yes, many atheists have explained why they would not worship the god of the Bible if he did exist (this was one of his examples), but they are also claiming he doesn't exist so the point is moot. He also said once that you don't need to Bible to know what is right and wrong, yet he still talked about how he was a Christian exclusivist with a definition that requires accepting Jesus Christ as the son of god who was crucified and resurrected in order to be saved. I am not sure he fully realized what he was saying there.

After this, the question and answer session came up. He was asked to clarify the rebellion against god and if he believed that applied to thought beyond atheism, to which he did. I asked how he sees the claim that Jews, Muslims, and Christians worship the same god, and in extension of that how exclusivism deals with the further subdivision of Christianity into a large number of different sects. His response, in my mind, showed a fear for Islam that I think is clear in this venue. Currently, from my perspective, the two greatest threats to Christianity are Islam and agnosticism. Islam is a giant, fast growing religion that relies on the monotheism Christianity has pushed so heavily. Agnosticism is also growing as religion just looses importance in people's lives. Obviously things like science, human rights, and such do encroach on religion, but they can liberalize to deal with this as many sects already have. I think this is why he worked hard to separate Christianity from Islam, without ever touching modern Judaism (a religion of a few dozen million people isn't a big threat when two religions with over a billion followers each are going at it). He claimed, with a few warnings that he hasn't studied Islam much, that we can see the god of Islam is different because the Christian and Jewish religious texts don't involve the killing of infidels. I am hoping I misunderstood his point here... He then went on to claim that the large majority of Christian sects have the same core beliefs, and that this unity overrides their differences. He furthermore claimed that people who don't buy that core shouldn't call themselves Christian (yet again, self-identification issues...). He did include Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestant sects as being a part of that core Christianity. I got the feeling there was an implication that Mormons don't fall into that, but I may have been reading too far into what he said (as he didn't specifically mention Mormons).

He got asked about the fact that he admitted he hadn't studied other beliefs extensively, but that he choose to be exclusively Christian. He claims that he read many books with evidence for Christianity. He was asked how this wasn't just self-assuring with the beliefs he had, and he claimed that it all came down to the resurrection. From my perspective, he seemed to be saying his entire belief system is based on the resurrection. He apparently thinks there is evidence that this happened, and unless that can be refuted he will continue with the Christian exclusivity.

As I have said, his whole argument just felt really weak to me. Maybe he just didn't have enough time. Maybe he didn't expect anybody to question what he said for themselves. I am also hoping I misunderstood some of what he was saying. I really hope I misunderstood his discussion of Islam. The lecture left me viewing exclusivism as even weaker than I had previous viewed it.

One of the problems theists still have to be able to answer is the issue of religious diversity. How can one religion be right when there are so many of them? For many the answer to that has been religious exclusivity. He tried to argue, however, that Christianity was correct and that is just the end of the story. With some ways of knowing, we can have information that supports one line of thought over another. I don't see that we have that with the line of thinking he presented. He also, in the defense of Christianity, used the existence of something rather than nothing as proof of god. It is not safe to rely on a god of the gaps. Yes, there will always be gaps, but as we fill certain gaps, the reliance in the belief of god gets weaker. With the germ theory of disease we stopped using the supernatural to cause sickness. With meteorology, we stopped using the supernatural to explain the weather. With plate tectonics we stopped using the supernatural to explain earthquakes and volcanoes. With evolution we stopped using the supernatural to explain the existence of life and humanity. M Theory and the compilation of our physics understanding is now taking on the existence of something rather than nothing. The belief in god can't rely on these issues. Not that the belief in god can't exist, but staking that belief in the gaps is not a solid place to be.

I understand that this symposium represented only a small sample of Christian thought. I have had discussions and been exposed to Christians who understand LGBTQ issues. I know that not all Christians are religious exclusivitists in the sense that was presented in this symposium. Attending these two sessions was a good reminder to me of what kind of beliefs are out there. This session did not leave me with the level of concern for others that the last session gave me. I think it did help to illustrate some of why other religions (particularly Islam) are treated so poorly (such as with the Islamic Community Center). I honestly just left this session feeling like no significant argument had been made. Maybe I am just vaccinated against this kind of thinking, but I was kind of disappointed. I was really hoping for an interesting case to be made.

The Problem of God Symposium - LGBTQ Issue Session

Yesterday I went to two sessions of "The Problem of God" symposium. This event was put on by a number of Christian organizations on campus. Some of their reputations (like Campus Crusade for Christ and Chi Alpha) I am sure will give you a hint of what kind of symposium this was. That can be further confirmed by the fact that campus ministries representing denominations such as the Methodists and Episcopalians were not cosponsoring the conference (though an Episcopalian representative was the sole pro-LGBTQ person on the panel during one of the events). This post is going to focus on the first session that I attended.

The first session I went to was "The Problem of the Christian Treatment of Homosexuality," which really could have been renamed, "Why we don't like Gay people with one panel member that disagrees with us." Of course using the word homosexuality in the title gives away the leaning of the event (note I will be substituting homosexuality and the gay lifestyle with more accurate and accepted terms).

The main speaker discussed what he saw as the problems from the Christian side of this argument and then the problems from the LGBTQ side of the argument. I caught him saying 3 problems from the Christian side. Firstly, we have to define what a Christian is. This is pretty dangerous to start with. He presented it in the light of "Christianity isn't hateful and if it is being hateful it isn't Christianity." I will let this one slide, but if anybody would like I would be happy to explain self-identification to them. The second was the assumption that being Gay or Lesbian is a choice. This point was obvious. It has long been established that LGBTQ individuals did not exactly choose to be LGBTQ, and that quite a number of factors are at work here. The third was the assumption that being LGBTQ is the worst possible sin. This got the ramble about how all sins are equal and we are all sinners. There was also this depressing thought woven in that meaning in life can only come from Jesus. I just want to take a moment to point out that I have a huge problem with this statement (besides just the fact that I am not Christian). Apparently, according to this line of thinking, meaning in life coming from love, family, philanthropy, advancing human society, the pursuit of knowledge, et cetera, are all wrong without divinity. That hits me as being incredibly bleak. Anyway, I will get back on point.

He then presented his view of the problems from the Queer side. This discussion showed me why so many people have such extreme misunderstandings. This wasn't even slanting of facts, this was the blatant disregard of the facts. The first problem he noted I can understand. He takes a problem with the term homophobic. I can understand, and I will actually try to fix this one. My perspective - we should call these groups out on what they are actually being which is heterosexist. Homophobia is the fear of Gay and Lesbian people, but what we are facing here is the discrimination of LGBTQ people, which is heterosexism. It is essentially the same as saying that they are gynophobic. Churches who don't allow female religious leaders aren't necessarily being gynophobic. They aren't necessarily afraid of women. What they are being is sexist. They don't think women are equal, and that is sexism, not gynophobia. Thus I will agree with him on this point, but not in the way he thinks. Of course he thinks that people aren't being "homophobic" in opposing LGBTQ-rights. So to that I will say, you are right, you aren't being homophobic, you are being heterosexist.

The second point was essentially him trying to refute statistics. I will combine this with his third point of trying to say people aren't born Gay. Of course he fell for the genetics trap here. Being LGBTQ quite possibly isn't genetic. He obviously quoted those studies. Yet he totally left out the studies on hormones in the womb, birth order, et cetera. His use of twin studies yet again revolved solely around pure-genetics thinking, without taking into account environmental factors or epigenetics. There were just lots of obvious blunders that were made here. According to him, many people are Queer because of their relationship with their same-sex parent. This was said repeatedly. I think this aspect is so obviously wrong I don't need to go into explaining why it is a crock. There was also talk of ex-gays. Ex-gay therapy doesn't work. The fact that it doesn't work shouldn't be a surprise, as we have known this for a while. One is disregarding the evidence to say that ex-gay therapy works. There were just lots of the classic anti-intellectualism and distrust of science here that I feared was common in this kind of thought. Just as a note - I go along with the line of thought that people are born with their attractions sort of set (there is a level of fluidity that occurs generally at certain life events which makes sense), likely based on hormone exposure in the womb. The Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Straight/Asexual/et cetera identities are then socially constructed on top of these biological attractions. If this is hard to understand think of gender. People are born male, female, or intersex in terms of physical sex. In the West we have then built two social genders, male and female, on top of these biological differences. Obviously we are working on reconstructing this gender system because it hurts a lot of people, but you get the idea. Anyway, that is off topic, I more or less wanted to point out that there was some clear anti-intellectualism here in the sense that there was a clear distrust of science and statistics.

The fourth "problem" he presented was that the Queer community notes that marriage is a social construct. He tried repeatedly to argue that marriage somehow had universal aspects across culture. This is obviously not true. Marriage, even in the West, has meant a lot of different things. Even in the United States, marriage at one time implied that the woman was the man's property, and not that long ago people with different skin colors could not get married. There are cultures that have had plural marriages including polygamy (one man multiple women), polyandry (one woman multiple men), and polyamory (multiple people). Marriage has been a property exchange, marriage has only been for the wealthy, marriage has included members of the same sex (potentially even in the early Christian church as some have suggested with St. Serguis and St. Bacchus). Marriages have been arranged and thus had nothing to do with love or consent. There are also cultures that have no notion of marriage at all, or have pretty freely open multi-male multi-female groups. Confused paternity exists in some cultures, where a child is viewed as having one mother and multiple fathers. The "it takes a village" model also exists. If we look to our closely related species, we also see incredibly different social structures in bonobos and common chimpanzees. Marriage is clearly a social construct.

After this, a representative of Chi Alpha talked. We yet again had the "I have Gay friends" statement made, and lots of the, "Gays and Lesbians needed a better relationship with their same-sex parent." Lots of talking about how we are all sinners and bad and that whole mess. You get the idea.

Finally, the Episcopalian representative talked. I think he made a good choice, given the climate, of not trying to refute what was said but instead just made the following points. First, bullying is a problem. It is real and extreme. The second is that internalized homophobia can make people do really stupid things. Third, education is an answer. After seeing the kind of misinformation that was spouted at this symposium, this point is clear. There needs to be some serious education. I personally find it sad that the first two speakers at this event gave out so much misinformation. Many of the people attending this symposium trusted those speakers, and those speakers had a responsibility with that level of trust. The last point made was that Anglican Theology is based on a three legged stool. The scripture is not the sole source of knowledge. Christians also need to look to reason (I heard this as science and philosophy), and tradition. For me, personally, I don't get how the fundamentalist/evangelical groups can get away with denying science so heavily. Wouldn't understanding the natural world help you to understand god better? I guess I am not a theist for a reason, but I feel this point should be kind of obvious. I am also not the kind of atheist that thinks that the existence of religion is bad. At one time I did, but if I can be honest the experiences I have had with the Episcopalian church here at Purdue has changed my mind on that subject. Groups that put on events like this symposium, however, are the groups that give people like me such a bad taste in our mouth about religion. While I am not a theist, I wish more people like many of those who attended this seminar would see this point by the Episcopalians that you have to consider reason in addition to the scriptures - that there is more than one way to know god. From my perspective as an atheist, I think theists could learn a lot about their own beliefs from looking at the natural world.

The Q&A session had a few different questions. One that I thought was pretty solid was the question of slavery. Society now understands slavery to be immoral, even though there are teachings concerning slavery in the Bible that don't match with our modern understanding. How is this issue of LGBTQ rights any different? The only argument that was made was a clear slippery slope fallacy. Another question that I liked was asking how the speakers would define a lifestyle. Being LGBTQ is not a lifestyle. I don't even get how this connection is made. If you asked me, my current lifestyle involves going to bed between 11 and midnight. It involves late night walks on the weekends to get food. It involves where I study, when I eat, the fact that I do things like read and follow the news for fun. The fact that I am in a relationship with a man as opposed to a woman is not a lifestyle. The kind of dates we have sure. The fact that we are not an arranged couple sure. The fact that we don't have to undergo a rigid courting system sure. The fact that we are of the same sex, no.

This event was a shocking reminder of the kinds of things people are being taught every day here at Purdue. Many of the people that attended this event sincerely believe that being Queer is wrong. It is because of that thinking that heterosexist bullying is so common in our schools. It is because of that misinformation that our laws do not treat Queer people as equals. It is because of that thinking that so many people have cut their own lives short, or engaged in risky behavior. I want to remind everybody that being LGBTQ is not wrong. There is nothing wrong with a person who is Queer. In order to think that being Queer is wrong one must reject psychology and biology. In order to think being LGBTQ is wrong requires the rejection of the vast diversity of human culture. In order to think being Gay or Lesbian is wrong one must ignore the behavior of our species' close relatives. Being Queer is not wrong. It is not bad.

I want to remind people that there are safe places. The Atheist community is often welcoming of LGBTQ individuals. There are a number of churches (as well as synagogues, mosques, temples, et cetera) that are open and accepting of LGBTQ identities. At Purdue I feel safe in telling people that if they need help they can go to the Society of Nontheists, the Chapel of the Good Shepard (Episcopalians), the Wesleyan Foundation (Methodists), the Unitarian Universalists, and the Pagan Academic Network. These places are open if they need to talk through their sexuality and their religion (or lack thereof). The Queer Student Union (housed in Stewart G20) is also open to talk through problems. Many of the people in CAPS are open to talking. I also encourage people to report incidents of bias and discrimination. At Purdue gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are all protected. In West Lafayette the same three are also protected. In all of Tippecanoe County sexual orientation is protected. People should not have to live in an environment where the fact that they are LGBTQ is held against them. Let's not let the misinformation from events like this go unchecked, and let's not tolerate heterosexism (or any form of prejudice for that matter).

13 February 2012

Marriage Equality for those Keeping Track

Marriage equality by state with date marriages began (and in one case ended) and whether the legalization was due to the court or the legislature (though the executive branch may have been responsible for the bill, they can't make the change).

17 May 2004
Massachusetts
Court

16 June 2008 to 5 November 2008
California
Court, Prop 8 stopped (deemed unconstitutional twice by Federal courts, currently stayed pending appeal)

12 November 2008
Connecticut
Court

27 April 2009
Iowa
Court

1 September 2009
Vermont
Legislature

1 January 2010
New Hampshire
Legislature

3 March 2010
Washington, DC
City Council

24 July 2011
New York
Legislature

7 June 2012
Washington
Legislature

1 January 2013
Maryland
Legislature

(click for the larger version, map by marriageequality.org)

10 February 2012

Measles Vaccine

Measles is now a highly preventative disease. In 1967 a highly effective vaccine was approved, and this vaccinne has helped to save lives globally, especially those of children who measles is a major killer. The vaccine has helped the United States to control the disease for a while. Unfortunately, the hoax that is the anti-vaccine movement is risking making diseases like the measles a problem again. The study that linked autism and vaccination was a fraud, yet people continue to fall for it.

The issue of a now highly preventable disease may be coming to Purdue. A person with the measles visited the Super Bowl village in Indianapolis. Purdue is now making plans for if a measles outbreak occurs. This includes measures to protect students who are not vaccinated. Not everybody can get a vaccine. There are a number of reasons why one may not be able to get a specific vaccine. Because of this it is especially important for those who can be vaccinated to be vaccinated. Through "herd immunity," when a large percentage of the population is vaccinated, those who are not vaccinated are still protected. If too many people aren't vaccinated though, we risk loosing that herd immunity. If you are not vaccinated for the measles and can get the vaccine, I encourage you get vaccinated. Protect yourself and those around you.

More information on the measles and its vaccine can be found on the websites of the US Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.