Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Minnesota Same Sex Marriage Measure Amended To Add “Civil” In Order To Protect Religious Freedom, Susan V. Patton Of Campton Hills Illinois Pleads Guilty To Battery For Role In January Anti-Gay Hate Crime Attack, Daniel McLoughlin Sentenced To Five Years For Murdering Man Who Allegedly Made “Gay” Pass, Award-Winning Former Football Player Kevin Grayson Comes Out, Gay Texas A&M Swimmer Amini Fonua Defends School’s Reputation As Less-Than-LGBT-Friendly, Chris Mears Strikes Sexy Pose

In Minnesota, gay and lesbian advocates are embracing a last-minute change to a same sex marriage proposal that would add the word “civil” in front of marriage in state law. The move is designed to clarify that the proposal will only change the legal definition marriage, not encroach of religious freedom for those who are opposed. The Star-Tribune reports that the change is also designed to persuade a few Republicans to support same sex marriage in Legislature and give the proposal a stronger bipartisan coalition. Freshman Republican Representative David FitzSimmons (R-Albertville) has offered the change. FitzSimmons could not be reached for comment. It is not clear whether the change will prompt him to vote for the measure. “Minnesotans United supports this amendment, and we will encourage the members of the Minnesota House of Representatives to support it as well,” said Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United, the lead group pushing for same sex marriage. “Representative FitzSimmons’ amendment affirms the fact that Minnesotans want same sex couples to have the freedom to marry in our state while also ensuring that clergy members and religious institutions are free to practice their beliefs free from government intrusion.” The House will vote on the measure Thursday, but so far not a single Republican House member has indicated their support for same sex marriage. If the House passes the measure, the Senate will take it up Monday. State Senator Branden Petersen (R-Andover) said he supports the amendment. Petersen is the only Republican legislator to say he will vote to legalize same-sex marriage. He said the change to “civil marriage” has been in the works for weeks to ease some Republican concern about the measure. “It’s come down as of late as the reality of the vote was setting in,” Petersen said. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is a strong supporter of same sex marriage and said he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk. On Wednesday, he called the upcoming vote on same sex marriage a historic moment for the state and one to be proud of.

In St. Charles Township, Illinois, a Campton Hills woman must perform community service and attend anger management classes for her part in a physical altercation that St. Charles police considered an anti-gay hate crime, according to Kane County court records. Susan V. Patton, 32, pleaded guilty to battery, a Class A misdemeanor, on April 26. Patton’s sentence included 24 months of probation, 100 hours of community service, 100 days of alcohol monitoring, anger management classes and fines and costs, according to court records. She initially was charged with one count of mob action, two counts of aggravated battery, two counts of hate crime and six counts of battery. The charges stemmed from a fight January 6 in the 2000 block of Lincoln Highway, the St. Charles Police Department has reported. Patton reportedly threw a drink in the face of a woman waiting outside for a cab and punched and kicked two men. Authorities labeled the incident as a hate crime because the suspects reportedly taunted the victims for being gay, police have said. Two men, Stephan C. Bolt and Christopher M. Miner, also were charged in the altercation. They pleaded guilty to battery in late March, according to court records.

In Ireland, relatives of a man who died after a vicious assault have criticised the five-year sentence given to his attacker. Cyril Moran's family said they believed that Daniel McLoughlin should have been given at least 10 years. McLoughlin, of Joe McDonnell Drive, Sligo, admitted assault causing serious harm to Mr Moran, at his rented home in Cartron, Sligo, on August 5, 2010. The Irish Independent reports that a court heard that McLoughlin, a 30-year-old father-of-two, was already serving a four-year jail sentence for another assault and would start his five-year term next March when he completes this term. An earlier hearing was told that Moran was taken to hospital by McLoughlin after the assault in which he was punched twice to the head and face. McLoughlin told police that it happened after a pass was made at him. Moran walked on his own into the accident and emergency department, but 12 hours later was put on life support, and died on August 8. There was one other person in the house on the day of the attack – Gary Gorman, an alcoholic, who has since died. Judge Anthony Hunt said it was "a very tragic case.” Moran was taking the drug Warfarin, which carried a risk of bleeding as clotting didn't take place quickly, after undergoing heart surgery in 2008. Judge Hunt added: "It appears this was a factor in the cause of his death." After sentencing, Moran's first cousin Christy Monaghan said: "We were looking for justice. He should have been given 10 years on top of what he is already serving." Carmel Moran, the first relative to be called to the hospital after the attack, said: "I will never get over the state of him when I saw him in hospital." In joint statement from five of Mr Moran's cousins, the family said: "There are no words to describe how Cyril's family has been affected by the terrible events of August 2010. We cannot say his name without being reminded of how he lay in a hospital bed unrecognisable as the cousin we once knew. We appreciate the support the people of Sligo and beyond have given us since Cyril's death. However, we feel that at times certain media coverage has been hurtful and distressing." The statement added: "Cyril was very much involved with the local church and community. He was a kind-hearted person, who meant no harm to anyone, but he was also a vulnerable person and taken advantage of by people who exploited his generosity and, when he had no more to give, they took his life." The court heard that Moran was open gay and attended Mass daily.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, WTVR reports that Kevin Grayson has won championships at every level of competition–high school, college and professionally–and he has carried a secret each step of the way. He is one of the most decorated football players Central Virginia has ever seen, and he happens to be gay.“People didn’t believe it because I was an athlete,” Grayson said in an exclusive interview with CBS 6. “They’re like ‘Kevin plays football, he plays basketball, he runs track–no way you know?’ Those are the types of things where if I could go back and say; ‘Why can’t I be an athlete? Why can’t I be a star player? Why can’t I be the guy making plays that help my team win, and still on the flip side, be a gay male?’” Grayson was named all district and all-region while playing both offense and defense at L.C. Bird High School in Chesterfield. In college he helped the University of Richmond Spiders win the Football Championship Subdivision national title in 2008, and while playing professionally in Italy last year he was named MVP of his league’s super bowl. But his sexuality remained hidden from many of his coaches and all but a handful of trusted teammates, largely because of the culture that exists in America’s favorite sport Grayson has “no doubt” there are gay players in the NFL currently, and admits to knowing some active players himself. But, he explained that “it’s one of those things where you meet someone and you find out about something it’s a ‘you take it to the grave’ type thing.” The locker room is considered a sanctuary in sports, where just about everything concerning a team is dealt with and never carried beyond the doors. Because of that, coaches and players tend to act and talk differently than they would in public or mixed company. Grayson has heard multiple slurs and homophobic insults from coaches and teammates, none of whom realized they had a gay player in their midst. “[Sometimes] it’s just watching film” Grayson said. “You know, it’s like ‘Stop being a princess, stop being a faggot,’ you know– ‘Homo!’” Grayson added that, “While you’re in the football aspect of it, no one is really thinking about it. It’s a hyper-masculine sport. You have coaches that are, I guess, just naive to the fact that they could have a gay player in their meeting. A couple of times I laughed at it. I thought it was funny to think about whether or not if I told this coach, what would they say?” But it never really crossed Grayson’s mind to come out before now. Not because he was embarrassed, but because his focus was on school and football and any distraction would have put a spotlight on the entire team, one that Grayson wasn’t willing to shine. “You don’t want to be the focus in that way,” Grayson explained. “Not to say that it’s a negative, but when you have people just asking questions about your sexuality and how teammates are taking it, it takes away from the importance of the preseason. If you are an athlete, you want to be an athlete,” he said. “You want to be known for what you’ve done on the basketball court, football field, tennis court, whatever. You don’t want to be that person who it’s always ‘the “gay” athlete.’” Dr. Leticia Flores is a clinical psychologist at VCU specializing in issues of sexual and gender identity. She explained that some gays and lesbians spend much of their day trying to remember who might know about their sexuality, trying to guess how their and co-workers might react. For athletes and male athletes particularly, she said the stress can be compounded by societies’ perception of how they are supposed to behave. “Male athletes are seen to be very masculine, very macho, a guy’s guy,” Dr. Flores said. “And people’s stereotypes and biases against gay men is that they are the opposite of a guy’s guy.” Grayson said that, “It’s that extra pressure that you can’t even remotely show something that would lead someone to suspect you, so it makes it ten times harder.” Some of that pressure was relieved when Grayson chose to confide in a few trusted teammates, some of whom he found out were also gay and none of which shunned or turned their back on him. Now he is sharing his story with everyone, not only for the release for himself, but to hopefully inspire others hiding behind one too many masks. “There’s clearly a relief and that relief comes from finally being themselves,” Dr. Flores said. “We call it being, in the psych jargon, being authentic. But you’re who you are and you don’t have to wear the mask anymore” Said Grayson of confiding in select teammates: “It’s like the biggest weight lifted off your shoulder. To know that you have a teammate that basically says ‘I don’t care.’ Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you can’t be the athlete you want to be. Doesn’t mean you can’t be a star. Doesn’t mean you can’t go out there and go just as hard as anybody else, if not harder.” Grayson added that he was helped tremendously by a strong support system of friends and family. Without that, he calls hiding one’s sexuality “a cancer that can eat away at you.” He shares his story now to be something of an inspiration to others in similar situations to seek out their own support systems and put away the masks.

Texas A&M University swimmer Amini Fonua, a 2012 Summer Olympic swimmer for Tonga, and a New Zealand native, has come out as the first openly gay athlete at his historic Texas school. Fonua cited the values of the college he attends as his reason behind coming out at the notoriously conservative school. "An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal," Fonua told The Battalion, A&M's student newspaper. "And if you're living in the closet, you're living a lie." Fonua is a telecommunications and media studies major at the college. Last summer, A&M was named by the Princeton Review as one of three Texas colleges that were "LGBT-unfriendly", along with Baylor, and the University of Dallas, an Irving Catholic institution. Fonua told The Battalion that he hopes his announcement will usher in change at A&M, and also spotlight homophobia at other college campuses. He added that his positive experiences at A&M in relation to his orientation have far outweighed the bad.

A Speedo-clad Team Great Britain diver Chris Mears strikes an interesting pose on the sands of Miami, Florida.

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