WBEZ | Indiana http://www.wbez.org/tags/indiana Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en With GOP votes, Indiana House approves religious objection bill http://www.wbez.org/news/gop-votes-indiana-house-approves-religious-objection-bill-111758 <p><p>INDIANAPOLIS &mdash; The Indiana House approved by a wide margin Monday a proposal strengthening protections for religious objections in state law that opponents say could provide legal cover for discrimination against gay people.</p><p>Republicans cast all the &quot;yes&quot; votes as House members voted 63-31 to support the bill that would prohibit any state laws that &quot;substantially burden&quot; a person&#39;s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs and has a definition of a &quot;person&quot; that includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.</p><p>Groups supporting the measure say it would prevent the government from compelling people to provide services such as catering or photography for same-sex weddings or other activities they find objectionable.</p><p>House Majority Leader Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, said the bill would give courts guidance on how to decide cases involving competing constitutional rights pertaining to religious freedom and discrimination.</p><p>&quot;No one in this General Assembly is advocating a bill that would allow people to discriminate,&quot; he said. &quot;Everybody wants the opportunity for people to practice the rights they&#39;re supposed to have in this country.&quot;</p><p>National gay-rights consider the Indiana bill among the most sweeping of several similar proposals introduced this year in more than a dozen states as conservatives brace for a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.</p><p>&quot;What these politicians are peddling as &#39;religious liberty&#39; is not real religious liberty,&quot; said Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund. &quot;This law is an outright recipe for discrimination and persecution.&quot;</p><p>Five Republican House members joined Democrats in voting against the proposal. The Senate approved a similar version last month in a 40-10 party-line vote. Once agreement on a version is reached, the bill would go to Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who supports the proposal.</p><p>&quot;It is a restraint on what government can do,&quot; Pence said last week. &quot;It essentially gives courts guidance going forward.&quot;</p><p>Scott Spychala, an Air Force veteran from Indianapolis, wore a sticker opposing the bill on his military fatigues as he sat in the House gallery for the debate.</p><p>&quot;I just think there&#39;s going to be opportunities down the road where people can use their religion to discriminate,&quot; he said after the vote. &quot;It&#39;s taking us back in history.&quot;</p><p>Sponsors of the bill say it is closely modeled on a federal religious freedom law passed in 1993 and that 19 other states already have similar laws.</p><p>Gay marriage opponents in Indiana were angered last year when the Legislature failed to advance a proposed state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. Federal courts later legalized same-sex marriage in the state.</p><p>Democratic Rep. Matt Pierce of Bloomington said the proposal wasn&#39;t needed to protect religious liberties in that state and was nothing but a &quot;consolation prize&quot; for those against legalizing gay marriages.</p><p>Other Democrats said the bill could be used to challenge local civil rights ordinances that go further than state law to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination or challenge state regulations on church day cares.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re going to cost our state a lot of money,&quot; said Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond. &quot;We are meddling with the lives of people that we have no business meddling with.&quot;</p><p>Rallies in support of and against the bill have drawn hundreds of people to the Statehouse in recent weeks, and Christian and Jewish clergy members have testified on each side.</p><p>About a dozen people against the bill were on hand Monday as members of Freedom Indiana, which campaigned against the state gay marriage ban last year, delivered what it said were nearly 10,000 petitions opposing the measure to the office of Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma.</p><p>Republican Rep. Bruce Borders of Jasonville said he believed the bill would protect people trying to live out their religious faith beyond church.</p><p>&quot;I can see very easily where someone with their business is asked to do something that according what they&#39;ve read in God&#39;s word they simply cannot do it in good conscience,&quot; Borders said.</p></p> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 09:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gop-votes-indiana-house-approves-religious-objection-bill-111758 Ditching the Common Core brings a big test for Indiana http://www.wbez.org/news/ditching-common-core-brings-big-test-indiana-111691 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-hr-test_slide-39ff1dbc376b856439c0384655a0d8767c757fce-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Indiana squeezed the normal life cycle of a test—pilot, field, real—into one, massive exam that clocked in at 12 hours. LA Johnson/NPR" /></div><p>Every eldest child knows all too well: Going first can be tough.</p><p>There&#39;s no one to help you pick the good teachers at school or give you advice on how to tell Mom and Dad about that fender bender.</p><p>Right now, Indiana is the firstborn, feeling its way through some thorny &mdash; and consequential &mdash; education decisions with little precedent to lean on.</p><p>It all started a year ago, when the state dropped &mdash; and hastily replaced &mdash; the Common Core State Standards. It was the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/05/27/307755798/the-common-core-faq">first of three states to drop the Core</a>&nbsp;after previously signing on to the benchmarks in the summer of 2010.</p><p>Indiana also rejected a new, Common Core-aligned statewide annual test, which meant it had to replace that too (or run afoul of federal law). But introducing a new test generally takes years, not months. Questions are normally piloted one year and field-tested the next before the official, high-stakes version makes its debut.</p><p>&quot;The test has to do multiple things at the same time,&quot; says Danielle Shockey, the state&#39;s deputy schools superintendent.</p><p>Indiana squeezed the normal life cycle of a test&mdash;pilot, field, real&mdash;into one, massive exam that clocked in at 12 hours. That&#39;s more than twice as long as the previous test.</p><p>Why so long? First, it has to cover all of the new, new standards.</p><p>Second, the state had to include additional items in case of bad questions &mdash; a necessary precaution for any new, untested test.</p><p>&quot;So, after the test is complete,&quot; Shockey says, &quot;if nobody got Question Seven right, maybe that was a bad test item. That means there has to be enough in the bank for those things to happen.&quot;</p><p>But here&#39;s where the real padding came in: Indiana also had to pilot items for the test in years to come. These extra questions are basically testing the test, not the students. And, while those pilot questions don&#39;t count toward a student&#39;s final score, they do add a lot of time to the test.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Struggle For Educators And Families</span></p><p>In January, the Indiana Department of Education sent schools the timetable for its test, showing that it would take 12 hours over the course of the 13-day testing window. Last year it took about five hours.</p><p>Parents and educators were horrified. They flooded the Statehouse and vented their frustration at a State Board of Education meeting.</p><p>Further complicating things, in the weeks leading up to the test the IDOE altered its format dramatically by replacing a bunch of multiple-choice questions with some that require open-ended responses.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not just the actual administration of the test but the preparation of the test. Because, of course, you have to make sure kids are familiar with the format and that they&#39;re not going to be unnerved by something new,&quot; says Jenny Robinson, a parent of a 5th-grader in Bloomington, Ind.</p><p>Educators echoed that complaint, saying they&#39;d gotten no warning about the test&#39;s length.</p><p>&quot;We expected more item complexity to increase, but we really hadn&#39;t been told that the duration of the assessment was going to be vastly expanded,&quot; says Scott Smith, assessment coordinator for the Brownsburg Community School Corporation.</p><p>Educators weren&#39;t told because the test had been in development down to the wire. The quick turnaround frustrates Smith, who says he didn&#39;t care whether the state used Common Core or its own benchmarks &mdash; he just wanted lawmakers to choose one.</p><p>&quot;That flip-flop, the moving in one direction toward Common Core and then moving in the other direction ... that cost us time,&quot; Smith says. &quot;We were supposed to have three years to pilot these assessments, to field test these assessments and really prepare the assessment that has to be operational this year.&quot;</p><p>After a spate of last-minute meetings, some speedy legislation and an executive order, the State Board of Education and the legislature intervened, shaving three hours off the state&#39;s new test, which students are taking this week.</p><p>Though Indiana was the first to drop the Core, Oklahoma and South Carolina soon followed, and other states are considering the move.</p><p>Given the surprises that have come from that decision, Smith has some advice for lawmakers in other states now debating standards and testing:</p><p>&quot;Individual politicians cannot cut their political teeth on an issue this complex.&quot;</p><p>-&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2015/03/12/390688151/ditching-the-common-core-brings-a-big-test-for-indiana">via nprEd</a></em></p></p> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 08:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ditching-common-core-brings-big-test-indiana-111691 WBEZ obtains 911 call from controversial Hammond traffic stop http://www.wbez.org/news/wbez-obtains-911-call-controversial-hammond-traffic-stop-111511 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/hammond_1_0.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>This American Life</em> and WBEZ have obtained the first copy of the 911 call from a controversial traffic stop in Hammond, Indiana. You can hear the full audio of the call above.</p><p>The Sept. 24 incident began when <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/disbelief-some-hammond-after-accused-cops-are-reinstated-111159">police in Hammond pulled over an African-American family</a> for a minor seatbelt violation.</p><p>During the stop, passenger Jamal Jones refused to exit the vehicle when ordered to by officers.</p><p>The driver of the car, Lisa Mahone, called 911 for help.</p><p>After several minutes of asking, police drew their weapons as Mahone&rsquo;s two young children watched from the back seat.</p><p>One of the kids recorded the incident on his phone, and the video went viral.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="465" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XsW-QCxXkQA?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>The video ends with the moment most people remember: the officers smash the window, drag the passenger from the car, and tase him. Police have said that they thought there might have been a gun in the car.</p><p>You can hear some of Mahone&rsquo;s side of the 911 call in the video &mdash; but for the first time the official 911 audio gives us both sides of the conversation that took place when Mahone essentially called the police...on the police.</p><p>Some of the 911 call is difficult to understand, but what&rsquo;s clear is the two women have completely different perceptions of what&rsquo;s happening.</p><p><strong>Raw Audio</strong></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/189826499&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Mahone says she&rsquo;s scared that an officer has drawn his weapon and doesn&rsquo;t want to leave the car.</p><p>The dispatcher repeatedly tries to make the case that Mahone is safe and that she and the passengers should follow the orders of the police officers.</p><p>The tape from the 911 call is about two minutes long, and cuts off when the window is smashed.</p><p>After the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/recent-incidents-cast-doubt-hammond-police-accountability-critics-say-111228">incident originally came to light</a>, Hammond mayor Tom McDermott Jr. defended the actions of his officers.</p><p>Regarding the release of the 911 tape, McDermott responded to WBEZ&rsquo;s request for comment with a text message.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll take a pass on commenting while the criminal case and civil cases are being litigated,&rdquo; McDermott wrote.</p><p>Meanwhile, Mahone and Jones continue to pursue their federal civil rights lawsuit against the Hammond police.</p><p>The FBI is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/disbelief-some-hammond-after-accused-cops-are-reinstated-111159">still looking into</a> the actions of the police on that day.</p><p><em>WBEZ obtained a recording of the 911 call as part of a two episode project from </em>This American Life <em>examining the relationship between police and civilians. The first of those episodes called &ldquo;Cops See it Differently&rdquo; airs Feb. 6 on WBEZ at 7 p.m.</em></p><p><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Bureau reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 06 Feb 2015 13:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/wbez-obtains-911-call-controversial-hammond-traffic-stop-111511 Under mounting debt, Munster schools forced to make tough decisions http://www.wbez.org/news/under-mounting-debt-munster-schools-forced-make-tough-decisions-111499 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Munster HS.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On a recent weeknight, about 200 parents braved cold temperatures to gather at Munster High School in Northwest Indiana. They were there to watch a documentary about the threat to public education in Indiana.</p><p>Kate Robinson, who moved to Munster five years ago with her husband and three young children, was in the crowd.</p><p>&ldquo;We were in Chicago before we were in Indiana and moved specifically to Northwest Indiana and picked Munster because of the reputation of the school system. It&rsquo;s been fantastic,&rdquo; Robinson said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very supportive community. Everybody is here for one reason. Resources for work and good schools.&rdquo;</p><p>But the school system is facing a budget crisis like it&#39;s never seen before.</p><p>Robinson is concerned about cuts at her children&rsquo;s elementary school.</p><p>&ldquo;They already don&rsquo;t have science and that&rsquo;s just changed from last year,&rdquo; Robinson said.</p><p>The School Town of Munster is millions of dollars in the hole.</p><p>&ldquo;I started back here in July knowing when I took the job we had a $7 million deficit,&rdquo; Munster superintendent Dr. Jeff Hendrix said. &ldquo;I got to look at the financials a little closer. It was more like an $8 million deficit.&rdquo;</p><p>He says fewer dollars from the state of Indiana, and a shortfall in property taxes collected by the county made things go from bad to worse.</p><p>&ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t realize it came up about a $1.5 million short of what we expected. And, with that, it created a crisis for us because we didn&rsquo;t have the cash flow available,&rdquo; Hendrix said.</p><p>The district was recently forced to layoff 50 staff members, aides and custodians, but so far no teachers.</p><p>Hendrix says state lawmakers are offering few alternatives.</p><p>&ldquo;We were told that&rsquo;s probably what you&rsquo;re going to have to do is start cutting your programs,&rdquo; Hendrix said.</p><p>This isn&rsquo;t supposed to happen in a place like Munster. The wealthier Republican-leaning community about 30 minutes south of downtown Chicago is among the top districts in the state.</p><p>But they&rsquo;re not the only well-off district that&rsquo;s struggling.</p><p>While some Hoosier lawmakers want to free up more state money for education, Indiana&rsquo;s fiscal conservatism and increased competition is making it difficult. The pot of money that traditionally went to public education is now also being divvied up for charter schools and vouchers.</p><p>Tim Brown, a Republican who heads the powerful Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, rejects the assertion that giving families more school choice hurts some students.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re helping students. We&rsquo;ve increased funding for the general operations of schools,&rdquo; Rep. Brown said. &ldquo;So, again, every child has an opportunity for an excellent education with money following the child.&rdquo;</p><p>Brown says the state is trying to allocate another $300 million for public schools, which could help districts like Munster.</p><p>&ldquo;I specifically looked at Munster and for general operations they have received more money each of the last two years in the biennium for general operations,&rdquo; Brown said. &ldquo;Now the property tax issue, I know because Lake County and the Munster area is under a lot of constraints because of the property tax.&rdquo;</p><p>Those constraints include a state constitutional amendment capping property taxes at 1 percent for every home in Indiana.</p><p>That cap, plus lower home values, means less funding for public schools.</p><p>But Indiana State Representative Vernon Smith, a Democrat from nearby Gary, thinks the Republican-led government could do more, especially with a $2 billion surplus.</p><p>&ldquo;The state doesn&rsquo;t really care about the education of our young because they&rsquo;ve constantly cut back on the allocation of dollars for education,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p>Smith says Gary schools in his district are also millions in the hole and will need a taxpayer referendum later this year to bail it out.</p><p>Munster passed its own referendum recently, but may have to ask taxpayers to chip in again.</p><p>&ldquo;The problems of the urban communities are now becoming the problems of suburbia,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p>Back at Munster High School, Melissa Higgason is grappling with these problems as both a parent and a school board member.</p><p>Higgason admits Munster should have started making cuts years ago when funding began to go down. Still, she says affluent school districts like Munster are also hurt by the lack of financial aid from the state and federal government.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel like we have students who are internationally ranked in the School Town of Munster and yet our per pupil funding is among the lowest in the state,&rdquo; Higgason said. &ldquo;So, it seems contradictory.&rdquo;</p><p>Unless something changes, Higgason says Munster may have to lay off more workers. This time, including teachers.</p></p> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 08:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/under-mounting-debt-munster-schools-forced-make-tough-decisions-111499 Indiana's veterans service officers help vets get more benefits http://www.wbez.org/news/indianas-veterans-service-officers-help-vets-get-more-benefits-111398 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/indianavso016_custom-e39d107fe13df481bde64af40dd8510467f310ea-s1500-c85.jpg" style="height: 427px; width: 620px;" title="Grant County Veterans Service Officer Bob Kelley, right, works with World War II Army veteran Frederick Kern at the Grant County Government Building in Marion, Ind., on Monday. Aaron P. Bernstein for NPR" /></div><p><em>NPR &mdash; along with seven public radio stations around the country &mdash; is chronicling the lives of America&#39;s troops where they live. We&#39;re calling the project &quot;</em><em><a href="http://www.npr.org/series/363340041/back-at-base">Back at Base</a></em><em>.&quot; This story is Part 2 of a three-part&nbsp;</em><em><a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/13/376134776/va-data-show-disparities-in-veteran-benefits-spending" target="_blank">series</a></em><em>&nbsp;about veteran benefits.</em></p><p>The latest data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs show Indiana &mdash; which has the 35th highest number of veterans in the U.S. &mdash; receives $4,935 per veteran each year. If they received as much as Utah &mdash; which has the 35th highest return &mdash; Indiana vets would receive on average another $558. And if they received the national average of $6,088, that&#39;s another $1,153.</p><p>Retired Brig. Gen. Jim Bauerele has spent years working to match veterans with their benefits.</p><p>&quot;I think Indiana has neglected veterans,&quot; he says. &quot;I think veterans are uneducated as to what their benefits are, and there has been little effort undertaken to communicate and get that to veterans.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/map-va-benefits-in.png" style="height: 462px; width: 320px; float: right; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Source: NPR analysis of Department of Veterans Affairs data Credit: Robert Benincasa and Alyson Hurt/NPR" />Back in 2010, a VA survey found that nationwide&nbsp;<a href="http://www.va.gov/SURVIVORS/docs/NVSSurveyFinalWeightedReport.pdf" target="_blank">fewer than half of veterans</a>&nbsp;understood their benefits, whether it was medical care, college tuition or pension and disability payments.</p><p>There are all sorts of reasons why veterans in one area may not receive as many benefits as veterans in another. Veterans from different eras, such as Vietnam or Iraq, can receive different amounts. Older vets might receive more benefits.</p><p><a href="http://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/Applying.asp" target="_blank">VA applications</a>&nbsp;are also notoriously difficult to complete. Vets don&#39;t always get the help and guidance they need.</p><p>Bauerele says one reason for the poor showing in Indiana can be traced to what are called&nbsp;<a href="http://nacvso.org/" target="_blank">veterans service officers</a>&nbsp;(VSOs). County-level VSOs are part of a system operating in 28 states, and they&#39;re supposed to help vets get the benefits they&#39;ve earned. Some VSOs operate on the state level, and veterans groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars have their own VSOs, which operate in most states.</p><p>Some county-level VSOs in Indiana operate on a shoestring.</p><p>&quot;Some counties have an officer who is part-time, works three days a week, part-time and doesn&#39;t even have an office or a computer,&quot; Bauerele says.</p><p>So depending on where they live, one vet might find an office with a full-time staff trained to file paperwork with the VA, while another might find a closed office, or a VSO who can&#39;t navigate the system.</p><p>And without help, filing a VA claim can be tough.</p><p>Tom Nichols, a 29-year-old Indiana National Guard veteran, has struggled to file his disability claim. After returning from Iraq in 2010, he became addicted to drugs and alcohol. Eventually, he landed in treatment for PTSD.</p><p>Not only does Nichols not understand his benefits &mdash; he doesn&#39;t really know the best way to get them, either. He hasn&#39;t tried a VSO because he says it&#39;s too much trouble.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve got to go to some VFW to track down this guy, and it&#39;s only the first Thursday of every month,&quot; Nichols says.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/indianavso014_custom-2468c15859245a2a7f6c60de83e60d06824a0531-s1500-c85.jpg" style="height: 405px; width: 620px;" title="Pamphlets detailing services available to veterans are displayed in VSO Bob Kelley's office in Marion, Ind. Aaron P. Bernstein for NPR" /></div><p>So he filled out the paperwork himself. To some of the medical questions, he just wrote &quot;ask my doctor,&quot; which could be part of the reason his claim didn&#39;t go through. Advocates say the VA rejects claims for reasons as simple as using an outdated version of the form.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s basically on me to go out there and receive this,&quot; Nichols says.</p><p>But a trained VSO can cut months and years off the time it takes veterans to receive benefits from the VA.</p><p>&quot;You never want to apply for benefits on your own, unless you have some experience with it,&quot; says Bob Kelley, the VSO for Grant County, one of the Indiana counties receiving the most from the VA.</p><p>The VA&#39;s own data show&nbsp;<a href="http://www.va.gov/vetdata/docs/surveysandstudies/state_variance_study-volumes_1_2.pdf" target="_blank">vets who give VSOs power of attorney</a>&nbsp;receive more than double the disability benefits of vets who file their own claims.</p><p>David McLenachen, acting deputy undersecretary for disability assistance for the VA, agrees that VSOs routinely help the system work.</p><p>&quot;It can be overwhelming for somebody to prepare a claim and submit it,&quot; he says. &quot;The VSOs can be very successful at helping with the claim process.&quot;</p><p>Kelley also goes to nursing homes and Veterans of Foreign Wars halls to tell veterans about their benefits, often on his own time. He would do more, but his county won&#39;t pay for an assistant until January.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not a career,&quot; Kelley says. &quot;In the state of Indiana, it&#39;s not a career. When I retired from the military after 25 years, I was hired on at $28,000, and that&#39;s the average salary.&quot;</p><p>But the state is trying to give VSOs more resources in order to ensure all veterans have access to them.</p><p>In the past year, the state paid for software and training so county VSOs could file claims electronically. And for the first time, the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs set up workshops to explain federal benefits to vets.</p><p>Bauerele is part of the Military Veterans Coalition of Indiana, which is pushing to reform the system in Indiana. He&#39;d like to see better pay for county officers, and he wants the state to offer more help. VSOs like the American Legion already process thousands of VA claims.</p><p>&quot;Every dollar you give a veteran is new money from outside the state coming into the state,&quot; Bauerele says. &quot;That&#39;ll pay for a lot of Cadillacs, a lot of homes.&quot;</p><p><em>NPR&#39;s Robert Benincasa contributed to this report.</em></p><p>-<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/14/374055310/indiana-s-veterans-service-officers-operate-on-a-shoe-string">via NPR News</a></em></p></p> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 08:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/indianas-veterans-service-officers-help-vets-get-more-benefits-111398 Inside the Indiana megadairy making Coca-Cola's new milk http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/inside-indiana-megadairy-making-coca-colas-new-milk-111321 <p><p>Coca-Cola got a lot of attention in November when it&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/11/26/366851927/coca-cola-wades-into-milk-business-with-fairlife">announced</a>&nbsp;that it was going into the milk business. Not just any milk, mind you: nutritious, reformulated supermilk.</p><p>It also invited ridicule. &quot;It&#39;s like they got Frankenstein to lactate,&quot;&nbsp;<a href="http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/ziipwv/thought-for-food%E2%80%94-fairlife-milk%E2%80%94-pizza-hut-s-subconscious-menu">scoffed</a>&nbsp;Stephen Colbert on his show. &quot;If this product doesn&#39;t work out, they can always re-introduce Milk Classic.&quot;</p><p>In fact, the idea for New Milk didn&#39;t come from Coca-Cola at all. It emerged from a huge, high-tech dairy farm in Indiana.</p><p>That dairy, called&nbsp;<a href="http://fofarms.com/">Fair Oaks Farms</a>, doubles as America&#39;s one and only dairy theme park, a bit of Americana that interrupts a monotonous stretch of Interstate 65 between Chicago and Indianapolis.</p><p>It grabs the attention of drivers with a series of tank trucks parked broadside like billboards in fields beside the highway. Painted on the tanks are cryptic messages: &quot;We Dairy You To Exit 200.&quot; Then: &quot;We Double Dairy You.&quot; The final tank truck has two huge fiberglass cows mounted on top of it.</p><p>The pitch may be goofy, but the farm is serious business. It&#39;s one of the biggest and most sophisticated dairies in the country, and it is home to 37,000 cows, divided among 11 different milking operations.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/dairyland-2_custom-b1246a12d0f4892c1588d908bb44c125ff4cccb7-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The amphitheater where visitors can watch cows give birth. Dan Charles/NPR" /></div><p>The visitors center offers a cheerful picture of milk production. The most startling touch: a small amphitheater where visitors can watch, through a floor-to-ceiling glass wall, as cows give birth.</p><p>Then it&#39;s off to the working part of the farm aboard a small bus. The bus rolls right down the middle of a barn that&#39;s almost 500 yards long, past about 1,000 cows that are eating, standing around, and lying in stalls on beds of sand.</p><p>There&#39;s also a stop at the &quot;milking parlor,&quot; where visitors watch from a balcony as cows, one by one, step onto an enormous rotating turntable to be milked. Sensors identify each cow, and computers record how much milk she&#39;s producing.</p><p>&quot;Take a look! They&#39;re calm, cool and collected, exactly the way the farmers want them to be,&quot; says my tour guide, Terry Tracy.</p><p>This is the frontier of dairying. In fact, the people who run this place are so ambitious, they&#39;re ready to change milk itself.</p><p>Coca-Cola is now a partner in this venture, but the idea began years ago, when two of the founders of Fair Oaks,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31R7V4-Cr5w">Mike and Sue McCloskey</a>, were running a big dairy operation in New Mexico. They ran into a problem with bad water, and had to buy some expensive membranes to filter out impurities.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sue_enl-562a66e2e24af44e54e993313cc014de090eb40a-s1200.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 320px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Sue McCloskey co-founded Fair Oaks Farms with her husband, Mike. Dan Charles/NPR" />Sue McCloskey says they started thinking about what those filters might accomplish with milk: &quot;Is there something else we can do with this milk that will give it a premium value that we&#39;re not thinking about?&quot;</p><p>They realized that the filters could separate raw milk into its different parts, such as protein, lactose, minerals and water. Perhaps they could put those parts back together in different proportions, altering milk&#39;s time-honored recipe.</p><p>&quot;I remember sitting down with Mike, and we were talking about this,&quot; McCloskey says. &quot;And I told him, &#39;Listen, if you could make a milk for me, as a woman, where I could get all of my calcium and a bunch of my protein in one glass or serving &mdash; holy mackerel, that would be the most awesome thing!&#39; &quot;</p><p>They did, in fact, create a kind of milk with extra protein and calcium but no lactose. The H-E-B supermarket chain in Texas sells it as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.heb.com/page/healthy-primo-picks/heb-mooptopia">Mootopia</a>. It tastes like a slightly thicker, richer version of milk.</p><p>Now the idea is going national, propelled by the immense marketing and logistical muscle of Coca-Cola. The beverage giant has joined forces with Fair Oaks Farms and Select Milk Producers, the cooperative that the McCloskeys founded in 1994. They created a venture called&nbsp;<a href="http://fairlife.com/">Fairlife</a>&nbsp;to produce a new line of milk-derived beverages. The first product, which is similar to Mootopia, will arrive in the dairy sections of supermarkets in January.</p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/12/25/372664332/inside-the-indiana-megadairy-making-coca-colas-new-milk">via NPR&#39;s The Salt</a></em></p></p> Thu, 01 Jan 2015 11:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/inside-indiana-megadairy-making-coca-colas-new-milk-111321 Recent incidents cast doubt on Hammond police accountability, critics say http://www.wbez.org/news/recent-incidents-cast-doubt-hammond-police-accountability-critics-say-111228 <p><p>Activists will rally in Hammond, Indiana this weekend to highlight concerns about police brutality.</p><p>A controversial traffic stop there led to accusations of excessive force and has become part of a national debate over how to hold police accountable. Critics say that case and another recent incident shows that Hammond&#39;s system for policing the police is broken.</p><p>&ldquo;There needs to be a fair, transparent process in place for citizens to voice their concerns especially when they have a complaint against the police,&rdquo; says attorney Trent McCain, who is based in Merrillville, Indiana.</p><p>McCain is representing Norma Maldonado and her partner Dario Lemus in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Hammond Police Department.</p><p>The family&rsquo;s 2 year old pit-bull dog Lily was shot last June by a responding police officer who was dispatched on reports that a dog was loose.</p><p>Police say the dog lunged at Officer Timothy Kreischer, which justified shooting the animal.</p><p>Maldonado disputes that claim.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NWI%20Cops%203%20Lily%20the%20dog%20.jpg" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="Lilly the dog" />&ldquo;Lily was running at me and I can see the blood all over her. That&rsquo;s when he started to lower his gun and I just started screaming &lsquo;why did you shoot my dog? Why did you shoot her?&rsquo; He was frozen for a while and just staring at us, like he didn&rsquo;t know what to say,&rdquo; Maldonado said. &ldquo;I was screaming why did you shoot her? He said because she was loose. I said &lsquo;no she wasn&rsquo;t.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Maldonado says her house was protected by an invisible fence system, which the city says is prohibited in Hammond because they can fail.</p><p>The dog survived after thousands of dollars in veterinary care.</p><p>Maldonado, however, remains upset because she says the officer fired his weapon just a few feet from her young son.</p><p>Maldonado says she showed up at the police department to file a formal complaint against the officer, but was told she couldn&rsquo;t.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t understand why I was denied that right to make the complaint against them. So, I just felt that all doors were closed for me,&rdquo; Maldonado said.</p><p>McCain says he&rsquo;s not sure why Maldonado was turned away from filing a complaint.</p><p>&ldquo;My clients attempted to file a citizen&rsquo;s complaint several times after their dog was shot within a few feet of their 7-year-old son,&rdquo; McCain said. &ldquo;They got the cold shoulder from the City of Hammond and received the runaround each time they tried to lodge a complaint.&rdquo;</p><p>Hammond police declined to comment on the Maldonado case.</p><p>Maldonado went on to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city for the pain inflicted on the family and the officer&rsquo;s alleged reckless action in shooting the dog.</p><p>McCain said all of this could&rsquo;ve been avoided with a proper system for filing complaints to an independent review board.</p><p>&ldquo;The police are there to protect and serve and if they are not performing their duties in the proper fashion and people are getting hurt, and their civil rights are being violated, then they need to have a voice or an opportunity to bring their complaints to the proper bodies,&rdquo; McCain said.</p><p>Hammond police spokesman Lt. Richard Hoyda said citizens can lodge complaints in person, on its website or through the city&rsquo;s Human Relations Commission.</p><p>A spokesman for the commission told WBEZ it recorded only two complaints this year against police and none last year.</p><p>The city wouldn&rsquo;t confirm that number, but it says all complaints are investigated.</p><p>Hammond city attorney Kristina Kantar stated in a letter to WBEZ that Indiana law does not require it to release information regarding citizen complaints unless it results in disciplinary action against an officer.</p><p>That means no Hammond police officers have been suspended, demoted or fired in the past two years.</p><p>That includes officers Charles Turner and Patrick Vicari, who are named in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a Hammond couple, Lisa Mahone and Jamal Jones,&nbsp;who were stopped in late September for not wearing their seatbelts.</p><p>The tense, 13 minute traffic stop was captured on a cell phone by Mahone&rsquo;s teenage son sitting in the back seat with his young sister. aAfter Jones repeatedly refused requests to exit the vehicle, the video shows police smashing passenger window, tasing Jones and arresting him.</p><p>Police said the officers feared that Jones might have a weapon.</p><p>The incident sparked a media frenzy, with many comparing Hammond to Ferguson, Missouri. In the weeks after the incident, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said the officers would face a disciplinary hearing.</p><p>&ldquo;The two officers (Vicari and Turner) are going to appear before the Board of Captains meeting. It is a disciplinary hearing, it doesn&rsquo;t mean discipline is sure to follow,&rdquo; McDermott told WBEZ in early November.</p><p>However, that disciplinary hearing never happened. And a few weeks later the officers were back on the street, despite the fact that the FBI still is investigating the incident.</p><p>Critics say this demonstrates the need for stronger oversight to deal with alleged police misconduct.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no infrastructure in place in Northwest Indiana that really addresses that concern,&rdquo; said Dr. Gregory Jones, professor of Theology at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NWI%20Cops%201%20Dr_0.jpg" style="height: 185px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Valparaiso University professor Dr. Gregory Jones" />Dr. Jones also heads the Northwest Indiana African American Alliance. The Alliance tracks possible racial profiling in areas like Valparaiso, Gary and Hammond.</p><p>&ldquo;Poor people of color are often intimidated off of dealing with that issue. If we look at the Hispanic/Latino community, we look at poor African-Americans and poor whites, we need some levels of accountability there,&rdquo; Jones said.</p><p>In Valparaiso, which has struggled with race relations over the years,&nbsp;Dr. Jones says he has a dedicated partner in addressing racial profiling in Mayor Jon Costas.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the Valparaiso Police Department is a great police department. I think we can give leadership to the region in terms of a process of accountability throughout the region in relationship to these kinds of concerns,&rdquo; Jones said.</p><p>Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas admits his city may not face the same the same challenges as other Northwest Indiana in terms of population, crime, diversity and struggling economies.</p><p>&ldquo;Clearly, it&rsquo;s a much different policing environment in more urban cities and in cities the incidents of crime can be higher depending on where you&rsquo;re at,&rdquo; Costas said.</p><p>But regardless of a city&rsquo;s challenges, Costas&rsquo; message to police officers &mdash; especially rookies &mdash; is clear and constant.</p><p>&ldquo;You have a lot of authority and you have an advantage of force over others in a significant way,&rdquo; Costas said. &ldquo;You must carry that with humility and respect for the citizens.&rdquo;</p><p>Attorney Trent McCain says having a better system of accountability in place could save cities and towns money.</p><p>&ldquo;The number of lawsuits against Northwest Indiana cities and towns like Hammond can be reduced if a fair, transparent process existed where citizens can voice their complaints against police,&rdquo; McCain said.</p><p>Maldonado says after her complaint about the dog shooting was dismissed she no longer felt comfortable living in Hammond and moved back to her native Cicero, Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;I loved it in Hammond. I really did,&rdquo; Maldonado said.</p><p>Maldonado said she was left to explain to her children that police are there to protect them, not bring harm.</p><p>&ldquo;Not all cops are bad. There are a bunch of bad apples out there but not all of them are bad and it&rsquo;s sad that to this day we never had an apology from them, and that&rsquo;s all I really asked for in the beginning and they never gave us that,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. declined to comment for this story.</p><p>Sunday&rsquo;s rally to address concerns about police brutality will be held outside McDermott&rsquo;s city hall office.</p></p> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/recent-incidents-cast-doubt-hammond-police-accountability-critics-say-111228 Latinos worry after losing longtime seat in the Indiana Statehouse http://www.wbez.org/news/latinos-worry-after-losing-longtime-seat-indiana-statehouse-111079 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Reardon loses .jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In the wake of this week&rsquo;s sweeping GOP victories, some Latinos say they&rsquo;ve lost an important voice in the Indiana Statehouse.</p><p>Indiana&rsquo;s longest serving Latino state legislator, Democrat Mara Candelaria Reardon of Munster, was first elected to the Indiana House in 2006.</p><p>For years, she was the state&rsquo;s only Latino lawmaker, but on Tuesday she lost a close election to her Republican opponent Bill Fine.</p><p>Reardon&rsquo;s district, which once included heavily Hispanic areas like Hammond and East Chicago, shrunk over the last 8 years due to GOP-led redistricting.</p><p>Her seat had been held by a Latino for the last 32 years going back to when Jesse Villalpando Jr. was first elected to the seat.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s changed drastically. It&rsquo;s certainly gotten less and less Democratic and less and less Hispanic,&rdquo; Reardon said. &ldquo;It makes me sad that it&rsquo;s not a Latina seat anymore.&rdquo;</p><p>Reardon&rsquo;s defeat leaves State Rep. Christina Hale, a Democrat from Indianapolis who is part-Cuban, as Indiana&rsquo;s only Latino legislator.</p><p>At 5 percent, Indiana&rsquo;s Latino population has steadily grown over the last decade, including areas like Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.</p><p>In Lake County, Indiana, which includes Reardon&rsquo;s district, the Latino population is 12 percent. The history of the Hispanic community in Northwest Indiana dates back to the early 1900s when Mexicans began arriving in large numbers to work in the factories in East Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it does help to have someone of a Latino background,&quot; Hale said. &quot;And, I&rsquo;m a firm believer that our state legislature and our government should reflect our community and right now it doesn&rsquo;t.&rdquo;</p><p>Hale entered the Indiana House in 2012, and on Tuesday won re-election in a Republican-leaning district.</p><p>She views Reardon as a mentor and someone who championed issues important to Latinos, such as education. She also points to Reardon&rsquo;s fight against state laws that some viewed as being anti-immigrant.</p><p>&ldquo;We do need more people of Latino descent, and more women, different age groups, different perspectives being reflected in our legislature,&rdquo; Hale said. &ldquo;Right now, it&rsquo;s fairly homogeneous.&rdquo;</p><p>Representative-elect Fine beat Reardon by 422 votes to win the seat. He lost to Reardon two years ago.</p><p>Fine says he&rsquo;s aware of issues that may be important to Latinos, although the new district boundaries don&rsquo;t include the predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods it once did.</p><p>Fine, who is a lawyer, says his son-in-law is Mexican-American, and he has several friends who are also Latino.</p><p>&ldquo;There are all kinds of issues that are important to Hispanics,&rdquo; Fine said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think of it as a single-minded perspective, or single-minded issues. &hellip; And, not all Hispanics are in line with Democrats.&rdquo;</p><p>Before the 12th House district was redrawn, it encompassed a wide area from the shores of Lake Michigan in Whiting to the town of Dyer about 15 miles south.</p><p>&ldquo;Democrats benefited from the sense that it made it nearly impossible for a Republican to win,&rdquo; Fine said.</p><p>The new boundaries for the 12th District include parts of Munster, Highland and Griffith, wealthier areas with few minorities.</p><p>Fine noted that the areas with large Hispanic populations, Hammond, East Chicago and Whiting, are represented by non-Latino, white or black Democrats, most of whom have been in office for years.</p><p>John Aguilera, who represented the 12th District for eight years and succeeded Villalpando, wasn&rsquo;t surprised by Reardon&rsquo;s loss to Fine.</p><p>&ldquo;The way the district was lined up, I could see that coming,&rdquo; Aguilera, of East Chicago, said.</p><p>But Aguilera does put some of the blame of Reardon&rsquo;s loss on her fellow House Democrats.</p><p>&ldquo;I was a little disturbed that other Democratic legislators didn&rsquo;t accommodate her somewhat,&rdquo; Aguilera said. &ldquo;In Indiana, you can&rsquo;t create a district for one particular nationality or race but you can create a district based on communities of interest. But the Hispanic community is an afterthought. They pay it lip service.&rdquo;</p><p>For a time, Democrats Reardon and Hale found an ally in State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, a Republican of Mexican descent, whose district included the City of Elkhart. But earlier this year Kubacki lost in the primary and won&rsquo;t serve a second two-year term.</p><p>&ldquo;It breaks my heart to think that this coming year that I will be the only one left,&rdquo; Hale said. &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t seem right and doesn&rsquo;t seem appropriate.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 12:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/latinos-worry-after-losing-longtime-seat-indiana-statehouse-111079 Indiana suspect hints at more killings http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana-suspect-hints-more-killings-110968 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP185930239534.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Investigators in two states were reviewing unsolved murders and missing person reports after the arrest of an Indiana man who confessed to strangling one woman, told police where to find six more bodies and hinted at a serial killing spree over two decades.</p><p>But determining whether others have fallen prey to Darren Vann, 43, a former Marine convicted of sexual assault in Texas in 2009, could take years, a former high-ranking agent at the FBI&#39;s Chicago office said. That some of his alleged victims may have been prostitutes or had fallen through society&#39;s cracks could also complicate the investigation.</p><p>&quot;It does make it difficult. It indicates he preyed on individuals that might be less likely to be reported missing,&quot; said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.</p><p>Vann was charged Monday in the strangulation death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy, whose body was found Friday in a bathtub at a Motel 6 in Hammond, 20 miles southeast of Chicago. He also was charged with murder in commission of a robbery and robbery causing great bodily injury. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Wednesday.</p><p>A probable cause affidavit said police identified Vann from surveillance video outside the motel.</p><p>Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said Vann confessed to Hardy&#39;s slaying and directed police to six bodies in abandoned homes in nearby Gary. Charges in those cases are expected this week.</p><p>Police in Gary and Austin, Texas, said they are reviewing missing person reports and unsolved cases to determine whether any might be connected to Vann after he indicated during interviews that he had killed before.</p><p>Former FBI agent Joseph Ways Sr., now executive director of the Chicago Crime Commission, a non-governmental watchdog group, told The Associated Press that such investigations can stretch into years. Investigators will trace Vann&#39;s footsteps, down to examining gas receipts and toll both records, to learn where he traveled.</p><p>Ways said teenagers or adults who maintain close contact with their families are typically reported missing quickly, but that&#39;s not always the case for those engaged in prostitution, he said.</p><p>&quot;If one of them goes missing for days or weeks, it might be that nobody notices,&quot; he said. &quot;It&#39;s a shame.&quot;</p><p>Doughty said Hardy was involved in prostitution and had arranged to meet Vann at the motel through a Chicago-area website. Police were called by someone who attempted to reach Hardy but received text message responses that made no sense and that she believed came from the suspect.</p><p>The backgrounds of the other victims weren&#39;t immediately revealed.</p><p>Police took Vann into custody Saturday afternoon, and during interviews the suspect confessed to Hardy&#39;s killing, told investigators where the Gary bodies could be found and hinted at other victims since the 1990s, Doughty said.</p><p>&quot;It could go back as far as 20 years based on some statements we have, but that has yet to be corroborated,&quot; Doughty said. The Gary slayings appeared to have happened recently, he said.</p><p>The body of one victim, 35-year-old Anith Jones of Merrillville, Indiana, was found Saturday night in an abandoned home. She had been missing since Oct. 8.</p><p>Five more bodies were found Sunday in other homes. Doughty identified two of the women as Gary residents Teaira Batey, 28, and Christine Williams, 36. Autopsies are scheduled to be completed Tuesday on three of the women who have not yet been identified, the Lake County coroner&#39;s office said.</p><p>Austin police on Monday said they would review potential related cases based on information provided by Indiana police.</p><p>Vann is registered as a sex offender in Texas, where the Department of Public Safety listed his risk of attacking someone again as &quot;low.&quot;</p><p>Court records in Travis County, Texas, show Vann served a five-year prison sentence, with credit for the 15 months he was in jail awaiting trial, after pleading guilty in 2009 to sexually assaulting a woman at an Austin apartment two years earlier.</p><p>The woman told police that she went to Vann&#39;s apartment, where he asked if she was a police officer. After she told him no, he knocked her down, strangled her, hit her several times in the face and told her he could kill her. He then raped her.</p><p>Vann allowed the woman to leave and she called police the next day.</p><p>The circumstances of that case had similarities to Hardy&#39;s death, according to the victim&#39;s mother and court records.</p><p>Lori Townsend said police told her that Vann asked her daughter to perform a certain sex act, and &quot;when she said &#39;no&#39; and put up a fight, he snapped and strangled her.&quot;</p><p>Vann told police Hardy began to fight during sex and that he strangled her with his hands and an extension cord, the probable cause affidavit says.</p><p>&quot;This man is sick,&quot; Townsend said from her home in Colorado.</p></p> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana-suspect-hints-more-killings-110968 Indiana same-sex marriage proponents celebrate Supreme Court decision http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana-same-sex-marriage-proponents-celebrate-supreme-court-decision-110904 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gay-Marriage-.png" alt="" /><p><p>Kelly Dooley says it doesn&rsquo;t take much for him and his friends to celebrate.</p><p>But on Monday night, Dooley raised his glass for a toast at a restaurant in Crown Point, Indiana.</p><p>Dooley and about a dozen friends celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court&rsquo;s inaction, which nullifies Indiana&rsquo;s ban on same-sex marriage.</p><p>Although Dooley got married eight years ago in Canada, his marriage to his husband Matthew wasn&rsquo;t recognize by Indiana -- until now.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a great day. We&rsquo;re very, very happy here with this group,&rdquo; Dooley said.</p><p>Dooley&rsquo;s friend Jacqueline Castro joined the celebration.</p><p>&ldquo;(I) Never saw it coming,&rdquo; Castro said. &ldquo;Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen, no. Not in Indiana.&rdquo;</p><p>Castro&rsquo;s been with her partner Nancy for 20 some years. She married in late June when a federal judge initially nixed Indiana&rsquo;s same-sex marriage ban.</p><p>That ruling was appealed by the State of Indiana. Her marriage, and that of hundreds of other same-sex couples, was put on hold.</p><p>That hold was dropped once the U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear Indiana&rsquo;s case and similar ones filed by Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia.</p><p>This makes same-sex marriage legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia.</p><p>Castro says the ruling brings a sense of security for her and her wife.</p><p>&ldquo;Now, no matter what happens to me, my partner will be secure in her future and vise-versa. It&rsquo;s no different than anybody else,&rdquo; Castro said.</p><p>But not everyone is celebrating the decision.</p><p>Just up the street at a coffee shop, Kent Lane says he can&rsquo;t and won&rsquo;t support gay marriage.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like it. Not at all,&rdquo; said Lane, who lives in the the town of Remington, about 20 miles south of Crown Point.&nbsp; &ldquo;It just should be between a man and a woman. It&rsquo;s wrong in the Bible. It&rsquo;s wrong, period. Like they said way back, It was Adam and Eve, it wasn&rsquo;t Adam and Steve.&rdquo;</p><p>Lane isn&rsquo;t alone.</p><p>Dr. Ron Johnson Jr.&nbsp; is a local minister and head of the Indiana Pastors Alliance.</p><p>&ldquo;I think what this is a sign of is the deep moral darkness that our nation is in right now that we can&rsquo;t figure out something as something as commonsensical as the fact that marriage should be between a man and woman who can have children,&rdquo; Dr. Johnson said.&nbsp;</p><p>Dr. Johnson is also miffed that the court nullified the will of most Hoosiers who supported the state&rsquo;s definition of marriage.</p><p>&ldquo;I just get deeply concerned when we have judges who think they know better than the millions of Hoosiers who already weighed in a situation or who should be given the opportunity to weigh in on a situation,&rdquo; Johnson said.</p><p>Although he doesn&rsquo;t support the ruling, Indiana&rsquo;s Republican Gov. Mike Pence says he will respect it.</p><p>Pence urges Indiana residents to continue to demonstrate civility and &quot;respect the beliefs of all people in our state.&quot;</p><p>But Indiana Senate Pro Tem David Long, a Republican from Fort Wayne, was shocked by the Supreme Court&rsquo;s inaction.</p><p>&ldquo;It is surprising, given the importance of this issue to our society, that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to take up this matter, but instead to rely upon lower court rulings,&rdquo; Long said. &ldquo;That being said, the Court appears to have sent a message that if they ultimately do hear these cases, they will support these lower court rulings, and find that same-sex marriage is on equal footing with traditional marriage.&rdquo;</p><p>Long added an effort to write a same-sex marriage ban into the Indiana&rsquo;s constitution is also over after several years of trying.</p><p>&ldquo;The effort to amend the Indiana Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman would appear to be over unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses its decision and ultimately takes up the matter in the future to overturn the current decision by the 7th Circuit concerning Indiana law,&rdquo; Long said. &ldquo;Given today&rsquo;s ruling, that appears unlikely.&rdquo;</p><p>Kelly Dooley knows not everyone will be happy with the ruling, but says Indiana has already come a long way in terms of accepting same-sex marriage.</p><p>&ldquo;(Attitudes) are not going to flip over night and it&rsquo;s going to be a long time,&rdquo; Dooley said. &ldquo;But I said it once before and say it again: Had I ever been asked 20 years ago that this would be like this, I could have said no.&rdquo;</p><p>County clerk offices through Indiana are gearing up for what could be a busy day on Tuesday.</p><p>There is no waiting period as judges can perform marriage ceremonies today.</p><p><em>The Associated Press contributed to this story.</em></p><p><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Bureau reporter. Following him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 07:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana-same-sex-marriage-proponents-celebrate-supreme-court-decision-110904