BBC News – Gay marriage bill: Peers back government plans

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BBC News – Gay marriage bill: Peers back government plans.

Poverty Is Relative

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What a strange turn of phrase that is – ‘poverty is relative’.  According to an article I read recently on The Independent news-site (Click Here counting penniesfor full article), it means that poverty prevents people from being full members of society.

The main focus of this article was some recent research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that stated that 1/3 of all Britons are too poor to ‘participate in society’.

“Participating is about belonging. Many of society’s expectations require individuals and families to spend money,” the report, Poverty, Participation and Choice, says. “Like it or not, Britain is a consumer society in which people are assessed according to the income that they have, how they spend it and what they do with their time.”

It definitely makes me think about my own experiences over the past year, and how my social life has changed since becoming unemployed and trying to adhere to a very strict budget. I’m not saying I was the life of the party a year ago, but I at least had a life. LOL

2010-01-04-happy-being-poor

I’ve written about reassessing my views on the materialism and consumerism around us all in my post First World Problems but didn’t fully touch on how lonely being ‘poor’ can be.  It’s not the same for everyone obviously because everyone has different circumstances, but I think there are some common trends that the study touched upon.

Just under a third of people in Britain are excluded from mainstream society because they cannot afford to join in cultural activities such as going to the cinema, taking a holiday or buying consumer goods.

And I’ve found that to true for me.

A huge part of being social these days is about going out and spending money, be it at the pub, a restaurant, concerts, or day trips to the countryside.  It seems wherever you turn, someone is going somewhere with somebody.

AloneEspecially in a city like London, where you generally have to plan things several weeks in advance because of how busy everyone is.

But when you’re truly struggling with money, not only do you tend to spend most of your time alone, it also seems less likely people are going to invite you places because they know you can’t afford it.  Sure, they may think they’re trying to spare your feelings by not inviting in the first place, but imagine being on the other end and seemingly being excluded from your friends’ lives?

Of course that is a generalised statement, because not all friends will act like that.  Some may purposely go out of their way to invite you around for a Sunday roast every so often, or even take you out to the pub for a few drinks on them.

Unfortunately those aren’t regular occurrences in my experience, or more accurately, isolated to a few choice people who do their best to include you.

Some may say (and several did in the comments section for the above article) why not do cheap, simple things at home by inviting your friends to visit you?  In an ideal world, that would be terrific.. But doesn’t really work for me personally.

eating in bed1

Not an ideal place-setting.

I rent a room in a couple’s flat and really don’t have access or use of the living room since they’re continuously using it.  So if I were to have company over, it would have to solely be in my bedroom.

Admittedly that’s fine for certain types of ‘company’ (*wink wink*) but not necessarily for a mate to just hang out, watch a movie on my laptop, or even to come over for dinner… Though even dinner could be a stretch due to budgetary constraints and trying to feed two or three people instead of one.

“The 30 per cent of people with the lowest incomes are forced to choose between the basic necessities of modern life; they must decide which needs to neglect.”

For a lot of people in financial difficulty or living in relative poverty, that above statement is one they wish they didn’t have to live by.  Too often it’s ensuring any extra cash is used solely on replacing or fixing broken or worn out items, rather than buying something special or extra.

It’s all about living day to day and ensuring you can keep your roof over your head and food in your belly.

Personally, I just miss being able to go out for a nice meal and go to the movies without worrying that I’ve spent most of my food budget for the week…

But I’m sure I’ll get back to that level of consumerism sometime soon. 😉

Another Step Forward for Marriage Equality

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marriage bill passes

That’s right, ladies and gents.. the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill has passed it’s third reading today in the UK House of Commons.  The Bill will extend the legal form of marriage to lesbian, gay and bisexual people and permit religious denominations to celebrate such marriages should they wish.

here_1And it didn’t just pass by a narrow margin either – 366 for to 161 against.

A nice big, overwhelming majority.  Just like it should be.

Of course, it isn’t finished just yet.  Next the bill would have to pass through the committee and reading stages with the House of Lords.  If passed by them, then it goes to the Queen to give her Royal Assent on the bill.  Once she has signed it, it becomes law.

As far as I am aware, as long as it passes the House of Lords, there shouldn’t be any issue with her Majesty signing the bill.  Back in March, she signed a charter in support of gay rights and gender equality within the Commonwealth, which (to me at least) shows her willingness to protect the rights of all of her subjects, regardless of their situation, gender or who they love.

It’s also great to see an organisation such as Stonewall (http://www.stonewall.org.uk) at the forefront of the debate.. though it really isn’t surprising.  For those who’re unfamiliar with them, they are a gay, lesbian and bisexual charity.

Actually they are THE gay, lesbian and bisexuality charity in the UK, and are always leading the way for LGBT rights.  They also do a lot of work internationally by lobbying the UK government and European Union to use their influence through diplomacy and international aid programmes to support gay equality globally.

In fact, their ‘Some People Are Gay, Get Over It’ campaign spread around the world, spawning many imitations in multiple languages.

london buses

For more information about Stonewall’s campaign for equal marriage visit www.stonewall.org.uk/marriage

Stop The Hate, Free Kate

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Free KateI found this article on a friend’s Facebook wall this morning.. and I couldn’t be more shocked and disgusted by some of the actions taken against this 18 year old teenager, Kaitlyn Hunt.

Read the full article HERE.

From what I’ve read about this story, Kate (as she’s known to her friends) seems to be a good student – cheerleading, basketball, chorus, good grades, and was even voted ‘most school spirit’.

However instead of preparing for graduation and life beyond high school, she’s fighting a battle against expulsion and bigotry.  She’s been charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 – 16 years of age, and may go to jail instead of college.

Why?  All because she was dating a 15 year old girl she’d met on the basketball team.

According to the above article:

‘..the relationship caused waves at the school from the start. Kaitlyn was dropped from the basketball team because the coach feared a same-sex relationship would bring unwanted “drama.”

‘Then the family was shocked and devastated when police came to their home in February to arrest Kaitlyn. She was charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 – 16 years of age.

‘Kaitlyn was 18 and her 15-year-old girlfriend’s parents pressed charges.’

That’s right, boys and girls.  Instead of dealing with the fact that their 15 year old daughter was dating another girl, they instead lashed out and are trying to ruin Kate’s life.  All because they’re too closed minded to realise that their daughter likes another girl.

Initially the other family petitioned the school and got Kate expelled weeks before graduation, but a judge agreed she could return as long as she didn’t have contact with the other girl.

However she is still facing these charges, though was offered a plea-bargain – house arrest for two years, plus a year of probation.  Meaning, if she’d accept it, she’d have to hold off entering the next stage of her life, and the charges would stay on her permanent adult record.

holding handsThis is completely and utterly wrong on many different levels.  Regardless if Kate is 18 years old or not, she’s still a kid in high school.  How could it possibly be wrong for her to fall for someone on her basketball team.. and only 3 years younger.  That may seem like a lot in high school, but in the real world, 3 years is nothing.

But it’s also the fact that the other family and the school were willing to place the ‘blame’ entirely on Kate’s shoulders, as if she ‘forced’ the other girl into the relationship.  But as well, the school hasn’t done anything to stop the homophobic slurs written about Kate in the school lavatories (that her younger sister has had to see).

It still shocks me, in this day and age, how some people can still be so close minded about something like sexuality.  We all know (most) kids experiment at some point in their adolescence, be in high school or perhaps as late as college, because it’s a natural thing to question who you are and try to figure it out for yourself.

Admittedly dating and experimenting are different things, but I’ve know people who’ve ‘experimented’ with their sexuality by dating people of different genders to see which felt right.  And that’s ok, because in the end that’s what life should be about, finding out what works for you.

There was no harm in these two girls dating each other.  They weren’t hurting anyone, nor were they hurting each other.

change-org

The excellent human rights website Change.org has started a petition to the Indian River County State Attorney’s Office to stop the persecution of Kaitlyn for being in a consensual same-sex relationship (the other girl has openly stated this, despite her parent’s position).

If you agree she shouldn’t be prosecuted for loving another girl, please click through the link to sign the petition.

Click here to sign the petition

 

It’s Time

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go redThis beautiful video has been around for a year or two now .. and it’s just as relevant now.

It’s even more relevant with the US Supreme Court hearing cases on California’s Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

What’s amazing about this video is, when you first watch it, you don’t think about the gender of the person holding the camera.  All that matters is that it’s sweet, touching and beautiful to watch.

Humour: 10 Reasons to Oppose Marriage Equality

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Found this today on one of my favorite blogs – Single Dad Laughing – and thought it be worth sharing as the US Supreme Court enter day 2 of their Marriage Equality hearings.  Total they’re evaluating the merits of DOMA – Defense of Marriage Act.

Anyway.. pokes fun at all the purported reasons for opposing Marriage Equality.

Enjoy 😉

10-reasons-to-oppose-marriage-equality1

Westboro Equality House

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WESTBORO-EQUALITY-HOUSE-large570

What a brilliant idea and good on Aaron Jackson of Planting Peace for coming up with it.

It’s been far overdue for someone to take a direct stand against the Westboro Baptist Church regarding their anti-gay antics and protests.

Westboro Equality House: Aaron Jackson Paints Rainbow Home Across From Anti-Gay Church.

According to Aaron himself:

“I read a story about Josef Miles, a 10-year-old kid who counter-protested the Westboro Baptist Church by holding the sign that says ‘God Hates No One,'” Jackson told The Huffington Post.

“I didn’t know anything about the church or where they were located, but that story kept popping up. And one night I wondered, Where is this church? I got on Google Earth, and I was ‘walking down the road,’ and I did a 360 view. And I saw a ‘For Sale’ sign sitting in the front yard of a house. Right away it hit me, Oh my gosh, I could buy a house in front of the WBC! And immediately I thought: And I’m going to paint that thing the color of the pride flag.

I think we definitely need more people in the world like him, doing the sort of things he is doing.. not just for the gay community, but for the world itself.

Every little bit makes the world a better place for everyone.

Facebook Knows You’re Gay Before Your Mother Does

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surprised

Can’t… Look… Away…

Bit of an amusing article.. especially when they mention some of the conclusions by the researchers of the study.

Facebook knows you’re gay before your mother does | ITworld.

Initially I thought it was a joke ‘study’ (similar to one I previously wrote about HERE), but following the link above I found myself reading an article about the study itself on the University of Cambridge website.

Researchers at Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre, in collaboration with Microsoft Research Cambridge, analysed a dataset of over 58,000 US Facebook users, who volunteered their Likes, demographic profiles and psychometric testing results through the myPersonality application.

Basically, the researchers used the volunteer’s ‘Facebook Likes’ to create statistical records of each participant in order to predict personal details, such as sexuality, race, gender, religion, political affiliation, and so forth.

Models proved 88% accurate for determining male sexuality, 95% accurate distinguishing African-American from Caucasian American and 85% accurate differentiating Republican from Democrat. Christians and Muslims were correctly classified in 82% of cases, and good prediction accuracy was achieved for relationship status and substance abuse – between 65 and 73%.

But it does make you wonder.. How much of what we do on social media websites affect other areas of our life, like potential for new jobs or even new relationships.  Just how much information is available to view by those we haven’t added as ‘friends’?

surprised-online

How’d they know about THAT?!?

We’ve all heard horror stories about people who’ve posted something negative about their workplace or boss, and have ended up being fired for it.  But do companies actually go one step further by checking out profiles of potential job candidates before inviting them for an interview?

Apparently so.

According to an article I read HERE, it’s becoming common practice to check applicants out online during the interview process (note: the article talks about US companies/recruiters.. unsure how this is used here in the UK).  However, there’s a fine line between looking at someone’s LinkedIn profile and using something potentially damaging from a Facebook post/pic/opinion/etc against an applicant to cost them a job.

But it’s got me wondering – Has a potential recruiter or employer possibly found my blog, and decided based on what I’ve written or posted that they didn’t want to discuss a role with me?  I know I can be a bit outspoken at times on certain topics, and I don’t write under a pseudonym at all.

Hell, my name is part of the actual web address so makes it somewhat easy to find.

There’s honestly no way to know for sure.

Will it make me change how I use my little corner of cyber-space?  Probably not…

…Though I may double check my Facebook settings or remove some pics *ahem* from certain ‘dating’ sites. 😉

That’s ‘So Gay’

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that-s-so-gay-lgbt-32624188-485-750 We’ve all heard people around us use the word ‘gay‘ as a way to say something is stupid or bad.  I don’t know about all of you, but I’m tired of it.. and sometimes it makes me angry to hear.

There’s been many times when past coworkers have said ‘that’s so gay‘ about something right in front of me.  What I always think is somewhat amusing – bordering on condescending – is how quickly they’ll say something like ‘no offense‘ to me as if that makes them equating something stupid or silly to being ‘gay’ ok and perfectly acceptable, or forgivable..

homophobic-language

What if it was a word that described you?

And it’s not.  It never is.

Whenever someone uses the term ‘gay’ to describe something, someone’s actions or something about someone, it’s derogatory even if the speaker may not intend it that way.  Regardless of who is hearing that phrase, of who’s around you at the time, or even who you’re saying it to.  You just never know who may get offended by hearing it.

For some people, that may come across as being a bit too PC about the whole thing since it’s only a ‘word’, but remember this one thing –

Inspire ChangeWords hurt

Imagine you’re a young closeted child who’s confused about their feelings and sexuality.. And all around you, people – family, friends, random strangers, maybe even teachers (and if they are, they should be fired!) – are using the word ‘gay’ to equate to something that is ‘less than’ everything else, that is ‘worth less’ than anything else.  Just imagine how that would make you feel about yourself..

What would you do?  How would you react as a 12 or 13 year old kid who’s not sure why they feel different than their peers?

thats_so_gay_poster

Use a dictionary already..

It probably wouldn’t be much of a jump for that same kid to go from feeling like they have no place in the world .. to possibly considering or actually attempt suicide.  And we’ve all seen in the news how much more often that seems to be happening..

..Or maybe it’s always been happening, and we just didn’t open our eyes to it before.

To me, using a derogatory word like ‘gay‘ to describe something is just another form of bullying, and we really shouldn’t be standing by and letting it continue happening.

The English language has such a variety of words that actually describe what you want to say… how about you use the right one?

This quite funny video of Ash Beckham addressing the Ignite Boulder 20 assembly has definitely been making the rounds on the social media sites and the blog-o-sphere, and gives food for thought around using ‘gay’ derogatorily.

Enjoy..

eHarmony Founder Wants ‘Cure’ for Homosexuality

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You’ve got to be kidding me!?!

I recently read this article (http://dot429.com/articles/1441) about the co-founder of eHarmony‘s comments surrounding gay marriage and homosexuality.

My blood was boiling afterwards..

For those that are unfamiliar with their site (might be a few out there), it’s a paid online dating site founded in 2000 by Neil Clark Warren, a Christian theologian who worked as a clinical psychologist for 35 years, and his son-in-law.  The site is specifically designed to match single men and women for long term heterosexual relationships.  They literally match people up using a 258-question profile to determine compatibility.

In the company’s early years, they primarily marketed to a Christian demographic and were associated with the evangelical organization Focus on the Family, though they have since become secular.

Then in 2008, because the company refused to match same-sex couples, they were sued as part of a discrimination case within the New gay couple on beachJersey Civil Rights Division.  Instead of proceeding to litigation, the settlement required the company to set up a companion site for gays and lesbians, which they called Compatible Partners for ‘serious couples‘.

Despite this, co-founder Warren has continued to be quite vocal about his stance on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and has been quoted as saying:

“I’m tired of it. It has really damaged our company, and when the attorney general of the state of New Jersey decided that we had to put up a same-sex site and we did it out of counsel that if we didn’t do it we were not going to have any business in New Jersey.”

One of their attorney’s, Theodore B. Olson, has said the company chose to settle because of the unpredictable nature of litigation, despite them believing that the complaint was “an unfair characterization of our business”.

Basically they were afraid they were going to lose to us poofs (and poof-ettes) and would have to pay out lots and lots of money in damages..

Though it is still unclear to me why gays and lesbians in New Jersey would want to use a straight dating site that was marketed specifically (at first) to the Christian community.

Or even a site where one of it’s founding members is very vocal about his dismissal of homosexuality.  In fact, Mr Warren has also gone on record as saying this:

“I have said that eHarmony really ought to put up $10 million and ask other companies to put up money and do a really first class job of figuring out homosexuality,” Warren said. “At the very best, it’s been a painful way for a lot of people to have to live. But at this point, at this age, I want America to start drawing together. I want it to be more harmonious.”

That’s right, he wants to find a ‘cure’ for homosexuality.

It astounds me how, in 2013, some people can still be so closed minded to think that being gay is something that can be fixed.  That it’s something inherently wrong within ourselves, either physically, mentally or genetically.

And I don’t think he understands if he thinks living openly as gay is ‘painful’.  It’s not painful to be yourself, for others to accept you for being yourself, for people to know the real you instead of a facade (when in the closet and lying about who you are).

What is painful is the bigotry and homophobia people such as this fill the media with, making those dealing with who they truly feel bad about themselves.

Why do you think, even in 2013, we still have gay teens choosing suicide instead of living with who they are?  It’s because they continue to be bullied in school, with teachers and parents who still turn a blind eye (not all, mind you), and we still aren’t doing enough to educate everyone that being gay doesn’t mean you should be treated any different from anyone else.

If anything, that $10 Million should be better spent on anti-bullying campaigns and education to ensure the next generation of kids have a more open view of the world as they grow up, and can grow up without being afraid to be themselves.

And closed-minded bigots and homophobes like him should have to pay for it.

*Deep Breath*

Ok I’m done with the soap-box.. anyone else want a turn?  😉