Don Sherfick

Einstein's brain, DP benefits, tiny robots, Hershman and SJR-7...what a mix!

Filed By Don Sherfick | March 12, 2007 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Albert Einstein, brain drain, Brandt Hershman, domestic partnership, Indiana legislature, marriage, SJR-7, SJR7, Universities, Wisconsin

Anytime I hear the term "brain drain" the one in my own cranial cavity conjures up Albert Einstein. After his demise in 1955, his superintelligent topper was preserved while the rest of him became ashes. It was the subject of much study.

So what does that wierd bit of anatomical history have to do with the current debate over SJR-7, Indiana's proposed so-called "Marriage Amendment"? I read last week about a really bright-sounding guy by the name of Albert Carpick. He's an associate engineering physics professor at the University of Wisconsin in the field of nanotechnology. It's the leading edge technology that uses itsy-bitsy robotlike things to do all kind of really wonderful biggie-biggie things to benefit humanity in a host of ways. The National Science Foundation, could amount to a trillion-dollar industry by 2015.

Or I should have said "formerly at Wisconsin". Because of the Wisconsin Legislature's refusal to grant domestic partnership benefits, coupled with its rush to ban same-sex marriages by constitutional amendment, Carpick has accepted a position with the University of Pennsylvania to continue his work.

Not just Carpick and presumably his domestic partner are leaving. He's brought Wisconsin some $3.4 million in grants since 2000. This is not an isolated departure, officials warn. It is a disturbing trend. And they point to the lack of same-sex benefits as harming the recruitment of talented faculty members. You can read more about Carpick's situation and the problem here.

In the next few weeks, our Indiana legislators will make a decision on SJR-7. One of the key issues is whether or not its second sentence would render the General Assembly powerless to enact innovative measures such as domestic partnership benefits. In drafting SJR-7, Senator Hershman has rejected language that would have clearly preserved this ability. This is in addition to his own crusades to deny similar benefits in the past.

Now I don't know for sure but the thought occurs to me that Senator Hershman would likewise send Albert Einstein packing were he alive today and decided to reside at one of our Hoosier institutions of higher learning.

Or at least his brain.

(Postscript: that wasn't a speculation about the Einstein sexual orientation; his biographical materials refer to marriage and I otherwise have no opinion or interest in the matter.)

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Great post, Don. I think it's good to get stories like this that highlight the contributions that GLBT people make to society, because it's easy to just paint our rights movement about being all about us (as if any person is an island). I really like reading about accomplished GLBT folk that I didn't know about before, mostly because we just hear about a few pop icons (elton, ellen, or melissa) or others who are ancient history (michaelangelo or Alexander the great). We're everywhere and we're doing some pretty cool things that benefit everyone.

Now, let's not forget that true equality for GLBT folk will come when some of the least intelligent and least qualified GLBT folk are in positions of power and prestige. So to counter-balance our current heterosexual and incompetent president, I nominate Jeff Gannon for the 2008 GOP ticket.