Teaching Evolution

A blog devoted to teaching evolution, both in our schools and in our communities.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Darwin's Defender

A fascinating profile of Pedro Irigonegaray, the lawyer arguing the pro-evolution case in front of the Kansas School Board:
Irigonegaray's oratory failed to impress the three members of the Board of Education who called for the hearings, however. They said the hearings provided solid evidence that evolution has its flaws, and they accused Irigonegaray of bullying opposition witnesses. The man leading the attack on evolution, Lake Quivira, Kan., lawyer John Calvert, wouldn't even shake Irigonegaray's hand.

It didn't faze Irigonegaray, who says he never expected to win the debate. It's not the first time he's taken on a losing cause.

He fought against the state's recently adopted gay marriage ban. He defended a female transsexual charged with providing false information about her gender when she tried to marry a man in Leavenworth County. He lent legal help to the family of Shannon Martin, a University of Kansas student slain in Costa Rica. He took on the Rev. Fred Phelps in a debate about homosexuals.

This in addition to regular clients, who have included Thomas Murray, the Kansas State University linguistics professor convicted of killing his ex-wife, Carmin Ross, and Clinton Odell Weidner II, a former Topeka bank president who was accused of conspiring with Westar Energy chief David Wittig.

"He's a busy man, but he's willing to put his time and his energy on the line to help fight these issues," said Tiffany Muller, a former Topeka city councilwoman and a gay opponent of the gay marriage ban. "He doesn't just talk about equality and justice. He takes it very seriously."

Irigonegaray, 57, left Havana after Fidel Castro had taken power. His family came to settle in the Kansas City area before moving to Topeka. That's where he attended law school, at Washburn University. The law was a natural fit. Irigonegaray is a dramatic speaker, with an even more dramatic appreciation for freedom and civil rights.


Note: This article was written by my former college roommate and fellow Daily Illini reporter, David Klepper.

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