Pete Stark and the Darwin Day Resolution

A collaboration between the American Humanist Association and U.S. Representative Pete Stark results in House Resolution 81: the designation of February 12 as Darwin Day.

On February 9th, California Representative and 2008 Humanist of the Year Pete Stark introduced H. Res. 81 in Congress, calling for the designation of February 12, 2011 as Darwin Day. The resolution was the culmination of collaboration between Rep. Stark and the American Humanist Association.

Representative Stark made the following House floor statement upon its introduction on February 10, 2011:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a resolution in support of designating February 12th as ‘Darwin Day.’ Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 and his life has had a profound impact on the course of human history. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has not only provided a compelling explanation for the diversity of life, it is also the foundation of modern biology and genetics. Darwin exemplified the scientific curiosity that has led to new scientific breakthroughs that have helped humanity solve numerous problems and improve our quality of life.

Charles Darwin is worthy of recognition and honor. His birthday should be a time for us to celebrate the advancement of human knowledge and the achievements of reason and science. It should also be a time for Congress and other elected officials to ensure that children are being taught scientific facts and not religious dogma in our public schools. It is also an opportunity to push back against those that seek to undermine the science of climate change for political ends.

I urge all of my colleagues celebrate Darwin Day on February 12th and recognize the important role of science in our society.”

The resolution in its entirety can be read here. It was sent to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and later referred to the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education.

Over 3,000 members took action on H. Res. 81, asking their Representatives to support the resolution. Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts has signed on to co-sponsor it.

Media coverage of Darwin Day has so far appeared in the New York Times, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Huffington Post. In addition, hundreds have expressed thanks to Pete Stark via calls, e-mails, and comments on his Facebook page.

“Representative Stark’s Darwin Day resolution is a thrilling step forward for the secular movement,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Not only is this an opportunity to bring the scientific impact of Charles Darwin to the forefront, but this also signifies the potential for greater respect for scientific reasoning on Capitol Hill.”

Though the February 12 Darwin Day date has passed, the resolution remains in committee and may be revisited again in 2012. The American Humanist Association greatly appreciates the work of Rep. Pete Stark’s office and their efforts in sponsoring this resolution.