Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Alberta 33-Year-Old Allan Richter Man Convicted Of Aggravated Assault In Connection To Brutal Attack On Blind Openly Gay 56-Year-Old Man, New Jersey Assemblyman Sponsor Bill That Would See State Second To Ban Minors From Undergoing Conversion Therapy, Maine Ethics Commission Fines Pro-Gay PAC For Missing Filing Deadlines, Prominent Openly Gay Australian Politician Marries Longtime Partner In Spain, New York Mets Noah Syndergaard Offers Apology For Homophobic Tweet, Harry Styles Tattoo, Harry Styles And Taylor Swift

An Alberta man was found guilty Monday of aggravated assault for a brutal attack on a gay and legally blind man who’d made a sexual advance on his attacker in McBride, British Columbia. According to the Canadian Press, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven said Allan Richter, 33, of Ponoka, Alberta, used a degree of force “far beyond that which could reasonably or even conceivably be considered necessary in the circumstances,” when he attacked William Floris Groeneveld, 56. During a trial, the court heard that Groeneveld made a sexual advance towards Richter on December 11, 2011 when he touched his buttocks and his genitals minutes after Richter’s SUV got stuck in the snow while giving Groeneveld a ride home. Richter punched Groeneveld three times in his face leaving him with a broken jaw, multiple lacerations and severe swelling to his head. He was in hospital for nine days and he continues to suffer problems with his balance, his memory as well as his jaw as a result. Groeneveld, who suffers from an inherited progressive eye disease and has been effectively blind for many years, testified he had lost his way home after leaving a pub and returned to the building where he asked Richter for a ride, which ended with Richter’s SUV going off the road. He said Richter started “flipping out” and Groeneveld hugged him to calm him down and that’s when he made a sexual advance that ended with the assault. The attack was believed to have occurred sometime after 2:00 am and Groeneveld was found in a snow bank about 4:00 am by a resident who went outside because her dogs were barking and heard someone calling for help. It was about minus-10C at the time. “His temperature was well below normal, without warming he would have died,” Verhoeven said. Police spotted Richter’s SUV about 150 metres away and Richter was found inside curled up and sleeping. Although the evidence was circumstantial because Groeneveld cannot see, the judge concluded Richter was the one who gave Groeneveld the ride, noting the victim’s blood was found on Richter’s shoe and near the SUV.

The South Jersey Times reports that an Assembly bill banning minors from undergoing “conversion therapy” counseling in an attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation could make New Jersey the nation’s second state to impose limits on the practice. The bill (A3371), backed up by American Psychological Association research, prohibits counseling to change the sexual orientation for anyone under 18. “I don’t know it’s something rampant in New Jersey with aggressive offering of the service, but some are suggesting that, for a fee, they can change a person’s sexual orientation,” said Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3, of Paulsboro), a sponsor of the bill along with openly gay Assemblyman Timothy Eustace (D-38, of Bergen County). “It’s so odd in the 2012, soon to be 2013, that anyone would take seriously that sexual orientation is going to be changed by the therapy. There is no sign to tell us it’s a possibility.” The American Psychological Association — which began recognizing in 1974 that homosexuality is not a mental disorder — charged a task force to take a close look at research literature for sexual orientation efforts. “There is evidence that some people thought they were harmed by (conversion therapy),” said Clinton Anderson, director of the APA’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender concerns office. “By encouraging them to believe they could change, when in fact they were not able to change, was undermining to their self-esteem, made them feel worse about themselves and that their faith was not great enough. Those sorts of perceptions people have of themselves can lead to depression, anxiety and more distress.” While the APA’s research is based on studies of adults, Anderson said children and teens are more vulnerable. “If an adult wants to engage in processes to change their life, that is an adult decision,” Burzichelli said. In California, the first state to introduce a ban on conversion therapy for minors, a federal judge has issued a temporary injunction on the law which would have gone into effect on January 1. A decision could be rendered on the law’s future this week. “New Jersey is a progressive place. Public health and mental health are big issues,” Burzichelli said.

In Maine, the ethics commission Wednesday voted to fine L PAC, an out-of-state political action committee that supports gay marriage, for missing filing deadlines leading up to the November 6 election. In early September, the group solicited donations in support of Question 1 by asking for contributions through its Facebook page, but had not yet filed as a PAC with the state, said Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. Even after it did register, the group then missed three more filing deadlines. L PAC donated $40,000 to Mainers United for Marriage, the lead group in support of the ballot question. Mainers voted 53 percent to 47 percent to approve the initiative. According to the Press Herald, in total, Mainers United raised $4.8 million and received nearly $1 million in in-kind services, according to reports filed late Tuesday with the state. At Wednesday's meeting, ethics commission members agreed to reduce the penalty from a possible $11,558 to $889.50 because the group said it was unfamiliar with Maine laws and because they attempted to comply. The reduction is similar to what was granted to the National Organization for Marriage, which opposed the ballot measure, but also missed a filing deadline. Protect Marriage Maine, the major group in opposition to gay marriage, raised $1.4 million and received $36,741 in in-kind contributions, the latest reports show. The bulk of the money came from the National Organization for Marriage. Kate Knox, an attorney representing L PAC, said the group did not dispute it missed the deadlines. The group is a federally registered committee that supports pro-lesbian candidates and ballot questions. "I think the proposed penalty is fair," Knox said.

The Associated Press reports that a prominent gay Australian politician married his longtime partner Wednesday in southern Spain, two months after his country voted down a proposal to enact same sex marriage legislation. Ian Hunter, the social inclusion minister for the state of South Australia, said he was disappointed that his marriage to artist Leith Semmens won't be legal in Australia, but said the two decided they couldn't wait for their country to approve a gay marriage law. "Without a doubt it's inevitable in Australia, but you're looking at six or seven years, and me and my partner weren't willing to wait that long," Hunter said a few hours before he and Semmens were married at an art gallery in the town of Jun. Mayor Jose Antonio Rodriguez officiated at the ceremony attended by more than a dozen friends and relatives. In accordance with a local tradition, the couple kissed for 17 seconds, which were counted out loud by the guests. Hunter, 52, is believed to be the first sitting member of an Australian legislative body to marry a gay partner. The former scientist has long been a vocal advocate for gay rights, and a lawmaker in the ruling Labor Party in the South Australian state legislature since 2006. He became a state Cabinet minister last year. The party's annual national conference in December 2011 reversed its opposition to gay marriage, but Prime Minister Julia Gillard remains opposed. Legislation that would have recognized same sex marriages was defeated in the House of Representatives in September in a 98-48 vote. While Gillard allows Labor lawmakers to vote however they choose on gay marriage legislation, opposition leader Tony Abbott, a staunch Roman Catholic, insists lawmakers in his conservative Liberal Party reject it. Opinion polls consistently show that most Australians support same sex marriage. There are other same sex marriage bills before the Australian Parliament which have yet to be voted on. Hunter thinks it will take years for Australian lawmakers who have staked out positions against gay marriage to change them, and for the election of new and younger parliament members supportive of gay marriage. Hunter said he and Semmens married for love and commitment and not to push the gay marriage issue forward in Australia, but predicted their marriage "will of course have some impact on a political level in Australia." Spain enacted its gay marriage law in 2005. The country's top court approved it in an 8-3 vote in November, rejecting an appeal contending marriage in Spain's constitution means only the union of a man and a woman

Asked to give an opening statement Tuesday on the conference call in which he and catchers Travis d’Arnaud and John Buck were all introduced as the newest members of the Mets, Noah Syndergaard, a 20-year-old pitcher, immediately apologized for an anti-gay remark he made on Twitter last week calling it “a poor attempt at humor.” Using the Twitter account @Noahsyndergaard, Syndergaard sent the following message on December 9 to the Twitter account of fellow minor-leaguer Dayton Marze: “@DMarze89 nice crocs fag lol.” Syndergaard, who was acquired on Monday along with Buck and d’Arnaud in the trade that sent N.L. Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey to Toronto, said he was talking with a friend of his. “I had a mishap on Twitter that was brought to my attention this morning,” Syndergaard said. “I apologize for anything that was said. My buddy and I were having some fun and it was a poor attempt at humor. “I’m sorry for what I said. I hope I didn’t offend anyone. I’m also sorry my first introduction as a New York Met had to be like this.’’ The right-handed pitcher was the No. 3 rated prospect in the Blue Jays’ farm system. Syndergaard went 8-5 with a 2.60 ERA for Single-A Lansing with 122 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings. Last season a member of the Blue Jays major-league club, shortstop Yunel Escobar, wrote an anti-gay slur on his eye black for a game against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Escobar has since been traded; Twice.

Harry Styles has another tattoo. Tuesday, Styles and rumoured girlfriend Taylor Swift spotted at the Shamrock Social Club in West Hollywood having inked some nautical-inspired work on his left arm.

Then Wednesday morning, Styles and Swift were spotted leaving Taylor’s Los Angeles home, Styles' One Direction band mates left to their own devices.

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