After controversial remarks by one Republican lawmaker attacking Girl Scouts as a radical group that supports abortion, House Speaker Brian Bosma made his feelings clear Tuesday, one Thin Mint cookie at a time.
Bosma, R-Indianapolis, pointedly offered Girl Scout cookies throughout the day and munched them as he presided over the House.
It was a snack prompted by State Rep. Bob Morris, a Fort Wayne Republican who recently sent an email to fellow GOP lawmakers explaining why he had been the lone lawmaker opposing a resolution honoring the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts.
In his email, Morris said he'd done "a small amount of web-based research" and had concluded it was linked to Planned Parenthood -- something both the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood deny.
Morris said that liberal Girl Scout leaders "indoctrinate" girls with Planned Parenthood principles and that it touts 50 role models, all but three of whom he said are "feminists, lesbians or Communists."
His letter, first revealed by The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, prompted a flood of media attention that Morris clearly didn't relish Tuesday. He told waiting reporters he would speak to them "momentarily," then went to the House floor and refused to talk to them. When lawmakers left the House for a behind-closed-doors caucus, Morris pushed aside a TV reporter and ignored questions.
Later, Morris spoke briefly to reporters, defending his comments as something he feels deeply about -- so deeply that he'd pulled his own two daughters from their Girl Scout troop.
Asked why he thinks the Girl Scouts support abortion, Morris said people should "get on the Internet, do some research, contact the Girl Scouts of America on a national level and ask them that question. They're not against it. If you're not against it, you're for it."
Betty $#@!rum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, called Morris's comments "inflammatory, misleading, woefully inaccurate and harmful."
He had charged that the group submitted pamphlets to Girl Scouts encouraging sex. $#@!rum said it doesn't produce or distribute any such materials.
The website of the Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana states that the organization has no affiliation with Planned Parenthood and that "issues related to human sexuality and reproductive health are best left to parents or guardians to discuss with their daughters."
And when a similar controversy broke out in the Washington, D.C., area earlier this year, the president of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital told The Washington Post that "misinformation is passing as fact. The Girl Scout organization does not take a position on abortion or birth control and these topics are not part of the Girl Scout program or our materials."
Morris tried to quell the controversy by telling reporters the legislature has "other issues we need to move on to . . . so we can do the people's work."
Bosma clearly felt the same, but also clearly wanted people to know he didn't share Morris' views.
At one point Tuesday, he told House colleagues he had "purchased 278 cases of Girl Scout cookies in the last 48 hours."
And when time came for the House to adjourn, he asked all lawmakers who had been Girl Scouts -- and seemingly every female legislator stood -- to give the daily motion to adjourn.
As he left the House, Bosma was dismissive of the controversy: "I've been to the carnival before, and you don't walk in to every sideshow tent."