This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.

Nov. 27

Rep. Pete Stark is on the verge of leaving the House after 40 years, but that doesn't mean he's not in demand.

Stark, who had been Congress' only avowed atheist, will be a featured speaker at the American Atheists 2013 National Convention, the group announced today.

"Congressman Stark proved that the assertion that one needs to be religious to be elected is false -- atheists CAN and DO get elected to Congress -- we just need to do it more often," American Atheists President David Silverman said in a news release.

Stark, D-Fremont, announced his atheism in 2007, and in early 2011 introduced a resolution expressing support for designating Feb. 12, 2011, as Darwin Day. H.Res. 81 stated, " ... Charles Darwin is a worthy symbol of scientific advancement ... and around which to build a global celebration of science and humanity ... ."

"Congressman Stark has never apologized for being nonreligious, and was re-elected again and again, as an atheist, based on the issues and his record," American Atheists Managing Director Amanda Knief said in the news release. "His speech, which will focus on atheism and politics, will surely be an exciting and unique experience, well suited to our 50th Anniversary Convention."

About 1,500 people are expected to attend the convention March 28-31 at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, Texas, the city in which Madalyn Murray O'Hair founded the organization in 1963.

Stark was unseated in this month's election by fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell, a Dublin councilman and Alameda County prosecutor.

Nov. 30

California Assembly Speaker John Perez will recognize and honor Ryan Andresen -- the East Bay Boy Scout who was denied his Eagle rank because he's gay -- at the new Assembly's opening session Monday in Sacramento.

Andresen, now 18, of Moraga, and his parents also are scheduled to meet with supporters including Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The Boy Scouts of America this summer reaffirmed its national policy of barring openly gay boys from membership and gay or lesbian adults from leadership. Andresen came out as gay, and though he had participated in Scouting for 12 years and satisfied all of the many requirements to attain its highest rank, Troop 212's leaders denied him his Eagle award. The local council subsequently kicked him out of Scouting entirely.

His mother, Karen Andresen, started a Change.org petition which has been signed by almost 428,000 people urging the troop's leaders to ignore BSA's policy and give Andresen the award he earned.