In Montana, in a unanimous vote Monday night, the Helena City Commission passed an ordinance to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and many kinds of public accommodation based on sexual orientation. The Helena Independent reports that hundreds of people turning out to support or oppose the measure, with the commission opening two additional rooms in the City-County Building to provide audio and video of the meeting. Mayor Jim Smith gave each side an hour to speak on the measure. “I believe, and I felt the commissioners believe, that being LGBT is part of the human condition,” said Commissioner Katherine Haque-Hausrath, the sponsor of the measure, speaking of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “It’s something that people cannot change, and we believe that people should not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientations.” Some 30 proponents of the measure, including some transgender people, spoke in their allotted hour. Fourteen people spoke against the measure in their hour, with both sides leaving many people still in line when their hour elapsed. Opponents cited fears of expensive litigation for the city and businesses; inadequate evidence, some said, that anti-gay discrimination is a problem worthy of such a law; and giving what some called “special privileges” to some people at the expense of others. Eight of the 14 people speaking against the measure mentioned what some called the “bathroom” or “locker room” issue — the concern voyeurs or pedophiles would exploit the protections for transgender people to gain access to women’s restrooms or similar areas demanding privacy, or that transgender people themselves would cause alarm in such situations. An amendment by Commissioner Dick Thweatt passed by the commission December 4 addressed that concern by mandating that in any place where people “ordinarily appear in the nude,” users may be required to use the facilities designated for their anatomical sex, regardless of their gender identity. But some said the fear of such a situation would make them wary of entering public bathrooms in Helena. “How will we be able to monitor when a person, male or female, enters the opposing bathroom and says ‘Well, I can do this, because I’m gender-identity confused?’” said Jacqui Garcia, citing situations her children might encounter. “We all have been in bathroom stalls and public stalls, There’s gaps between the doors, and you can still see in them.” Sharon Turner said the situation would put a huge majority of the population at risk. She said she wasn’t afraid gay or lesbian people would set out to harm the children, but rather others with malicious intent. “How easy it would be for a teenage boy to use this ordinance as a rite of passage?” she said. She said if the measure passed, she would cease her shopping trips into Helena with her children and grandchildren. Nick Lancette said all our values come from God and described himself as a traditional person. “My children should have a solid expectation of privacy when they’re in a restroom or a locker room, an expectation of privacy as they define it and as society and family has defined it for generations, not as an advocacy group defines it,” he said. “It seems that we would do well to apply the time tested principle of first do no harm when we consider the situation at hand.” Proponents of the measure said the bathroom fears were unfounded. Sarah Rossi, public policy director of the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said the vast majority of assaults are perpetrated by heterosexual men against people whom they know well, usually in or near a home — and not in a public place like a public restroom. Transgender people, she said, are more at risk of being attacked then the general population. Haque-Hausrath offered a pair of amendments to delete or change Thweatt’s amendment that could force transgender people into particular bathrooms. She said the amendment placed transgender people in danger of having no bathroom at all to use in some situations, and a few people voiced the fear they or friends experienced using public restrooms when their appearance did not conform to common gender expectations. Mary Ann Dunwell of Helena called for “equal access to the boardroom and the locker room.” Both Haque-Hausrath’s amendments failed on 4-1 votes. Bill Gallagher, a Republican member of the Montana Public Service Commission, said the city faces huge risks of expensive litigation, with even individual commissioners and the municipal judge being potentially personally liable — especially because the ordinance was provocative and antagonistic to the teachings of major religions. Other opponents of the measure said bullying and even hate speech was going to persist regardless of the ordinance, and the government shouldn’t regulate such behavior. “We can’t legislate morality and we can’t legislate kindness,” said Liane Taylor. “I think that what we maybe need is more dialog and not more regulations.” Proponents of the measure cited several examples of discrimination, bullying and fear if they revealed their sexual orientation. “I’ve been laughed, been jeered at, I’ve been called names, I’ve been sworn at, told I’m an abomination and I should be put to death,” said Roberta Zenker, a transgender attorney. Three current Helena High School students spoke in favor of the measure. Tyler Amundson, a pastor at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, warned against turning a blind eye to discrimination until it becomes a convenience. “We are talking tonight about human rights, not special rights,” said attorney Ron Waterman.
Rhode Island's Senate president says she anticipates a committee vote on same-sex marriage legislation in the coming session if the House of Representatives passes it. Teresa Paiva Weed says she remains opposed to same-sex marriage but that if the House approves a bill, she expects it will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee. House Speaker Gordon Fox has said he wants to call an early vote on same-sex marriage legislation and that passing it is 1 of his top priorities. The House did not vote last year after it became clear the legislation wouldn't pass the Senate. Both chambers passed a civil union law instead that Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed into law. Chafee told the Associated Press last week he very much wants to sign a gay-marriage bill.
The New York Daily News reports that an anti-gay slur was recently tweeted, and subsequently deleted, from a Twitter account belonging to one of the prospects the Mets acquired from Toronto for R.A. Dickey. Righthanded pitcher Noah Syndergaard, 20, acquired along with catcher Travis d'Arnaud in the deal that sent the Cy Young Award winner to the Blue Jays, tweets from the account @Noahsyndergaard. On December 9, this tweet appeared from that account: "@DMarze89 nice crocs fag lol" The tweet no longer appears on the timeline for the account. A screen grab of the post is available at the source. A Mets spokesman said that the team was looking into the matter. The full context of the tweet was not immediately clear; Syndergaard might be available on a conference call introducing him and d'Arnaud on Tuesday. Syndergaard was a key piece in the Dickey trade, and was rated Toronto's top pitching prospect by Baseball America.
Liverpool's midfielder Suso has apologized after he was fined £10,000 by the Football Association for calling his team-mate Jose Enrique "gay" on Twitter. The 19-year-old last month posted a photo of Enrique having his teeth whitened with the comment: "What fuck is he doing? This guy is gay ... he does everything except play football." Suso later deleted the tweet and uploaded the photo with a different comment, saying: "I dunno what to say ..." The Guardian reports that the FA on Tuesday responded by issuing Suso with the fine and a warning over his future conduct. The teenager apologized on his Twitter page on Tuesday night, writing: "I'm very sorry if anyone has been offended by my comments about the photo of my team-mate Jose Enrique. It was only a joke between the two of us. I realize that my words were unfortunate and it was not my intention to offend anyone. I apologize again if anyone was offended." Enrique also took to the social networking site, "Is amazing how FA can fine my friend Suso Fernandez for a banter thing. Was just a joke!" he wrote. The FA said in a statement: "Following an independent regulatory commission hearing on Monday, Liverpool's Jesús Fernández Sáez (Suso) has been fined £10,000 and warned as to his future conduct for a comment posted on Twitter. The charge, which the player admitted and requested a paper hearing, was that he acted in a way which was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute in that the comment was posted on his Twitter account and included a reference to a person's sexual orientation and/or disability." Suso has become an increasingly important member of the Liverpool first team and has made 13 appearances so far this season. The attacking midfielder moved to Anfield from his hometown club Cádiz in 2010 and signed a new long-term contract in October.
Team Great Britain hotness Tom Daley spotted (again) in the wee hours of the morning partying in London, solo (again).
Cute new couple alert: Patrick Schwarzenegger and Taylor Lautner spotted playing football Sunday – both ex-boyfriends of Taylor Swift.