Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in New York on Sunday morning, the NYT reports:
Mr. Hoffman, 46, was found in an apartment in the West Village around 11:30 a.m. by a friend who had become concerned at not being able to reach Mr. Hoffman, a law enforcement official said.
Investigators found a syringe in his left forearm, at least two plastic envelopes with what appeared to be heroin nearby, and five empty plastic envelopes in a trash bin, the official said.
“It’s pretty apparent that it was an overdose,” the official said. “The syringe was in his arm.”
Hoffman's family released a statement this afternoon:
"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone. This is a tragic and sudden loss and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers."
Hoffman's critically-acclaimed performances number in the dozens and included star turns in Almost Famous, The Master, Cold Mountain, Empire Falls, Magnolia, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and many others. He won an Oscar for his 2006 role as Truman Capote in Capote.
What a loss.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) is being called out for making homophobic remarks in front of hundreds of realtors at a meeting of The Alabama Association of Realtors in Montgomery, AL.com reports:
"At the Board of Directors meeting this morning one of our speakers made some remarks that were inappropriate and offensive to some of our members," the statement said. "Those remarks are not reflective of AAR or our policies. Moving forward we will endeavor to prevent such inappropriate remarks at our events or meetings."
Barry Mask, executive director of the realtors association, declined any additional comment.
In the open letter to Rogers, Equality Alabama Chairman Ben Cooper wrote, "when you marginalize our community, we will not be silent."
“You allegedly joked about how nice it was to be called ‘Honey’ and ‘Sweetie’ by a woman at an Alabama restaurant rather than a D.C. men’s room,” Cooper wrote. “And you went on to mock our nation’s capitol as a ‘cross between Detroit and San Francisco’ — an obvious reference to Detroit’s racial makeup and San Francisco’s vibrant gay culture. Comments like these are racist, homophobic, and hurtful, and they will not be tolerated.”
Rogers has been invited by the LGBT rights group to a Feb. 16 Vigil for Victims of Hate and Violence at the State Capitol. We'll see if he attends.
Finnish Olympic swimmer Ari-Pekka Liukkonen has come out of the closet because he wants to raise awareness about Russia's anti-gay laws ahead of the Sochi Games, YLE reports:
"I wanted to start a broader discussion in connection with Sochi, because it’s sad that the legislation in Russia restricts the human rights of young people and others," Liukkonen told Yle.
Liukkonen added that the Finnish sporting world was also in need of a more open attitude to sexuality.
"In the future I would hope that elite athletes and other people will not find homosexuality to be any kind of news," said Liukkonen...
"As the matter wasn’t discussed, I tried to forget about it, but during high school I began to accept that I am made this way," said Liukkonen. "Acceptance hasn’t necessarily been easy, but it hasn’t been horribly difficult either. This has been a long, slow process for me, but now I’m there."
Liukkonen, who is the first Finnish athlete to come out of the closet while still active in his sport, competed at the 2012 London Olympics and has won bronze at the European Championships.
Added the swimmer: "It’s a really great feeling that I can finally be myself."
If you thought Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) was menacing this week when he threatened NY1 reporter Michael Scotto after the State of the Union address, then you haven't met Rep. Sheila Kelly.
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
Police have made an arrested 30-year-old Musab Masmari in connection with the arson at Seattle's Neighbours gay nightclub on New Year's Eve, KING5 reports:
Police took Masmari into custody as he was en route to the airport. Police say following the arrest, Masmari was interviewed by detectives and later booked into the King County Jail for Investigation of Arson.
It was just after midnight on New Year's Eve while nearly 700 people crammed into Neighbours for a celebration when customers noticed the staircase at the iconic gay club was on fire. Management at the iconic gay club in Capitol Hill later discovered a gasoline container near the stairs.
A surveillance video released by police led to the identification of Masmari. His motives are still unknown. 750 people were inside the nightclub at the time. Slog has more on MAsmari's background HERE.
Watch KING5's report, AFTER THE JUMP...
MSPs are expected to pass Scotland's marriage equality bill in an overwhelming vote on Tuesday, the Herald reports:
The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill will legalise civil and religious same-sex marriages, with an "opt-in" procedure for faiths and celebrants willing to conduct ceremonies and legal protection for those who object. It also relaxes the rules on where civil marriages can take place, and establishes non-religious or "belief" marriage ceremonies.
Health Secretary Alex Neil, who has piloted the law through Holyrood, will tell Parliament he expects the first same-sex marriages will take place in Scotland by the end of the year.
However, behind the scenes, Scottish Government officials hope the process can move at a far quicker pace. It is understood that if a Section 104 Order under the Scotland Act is put through Westminster at full speed, it would enable same-sex marriages in Scotland by July.
A legal challenge to the marriage equality law is looking "increasingly remote" according to the paper.
The first same-sex marriages in England and Wales, which passed marriage equality last year, will take place on March 29.