Marriage Equality: MP’s Back Gay Marriage Bill

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To follow up on yesterday’s posting (Click Here), we now all know that MP’s held their vote last night after a full day’s debate over the proposed Gay marriage voteMarriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

Anyone who’s been watching the news will know the results, but I’ll post them anyway: the bill has been passed by a vote of by 400 to 175 (a majority of 225).  According to the BBC Website:

Their decision to back the bill at second reading signifies that they approve of it in principle. The legislation will now receive more detailed parliamentary scrutiny.

If it becomes law, the bill will enable same-sex couples, who are currently able to engage in civil partnerships, to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies – the latter only with the consent of religious institutions.

Of course, whenever anyone brings up same-sex marriage there’s always talk about the churches and their ‘rights’.  I personally think the 20081113_protest_560x375churches have way too much say in all this, especially when I don’t believe most gay people will suddenly want their weddings in a church that doesn’t accept them.

However this bill has specifically stated that churches will not be ‘forced’ to perform same-sex marriages, and there have been stipulations put in place in this bill to safeguard them.

The ‘quadruple lock’ as promised by Culture Secretary Maria Miller for religious groups who oppose gay marriage involve:

  • No religious organisation or individual minister being compelled to marry same-sex couples or to permit this to happen on their premises
  • Making it unlawful for religious organisations or their ministers to marry same-sex couples unless their organisation’s governing body has expressly opted in to provisions for doing so
  • Amending the 2010 Equality Act to ensure no discrimination claim can be brought against religious organisations or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple
  • The legislation explicitly stating that it will be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples

Meaning, if the big guys upstairs haven’t said yes, the little minister around the corner who thinks everyone is equal can’t perform the marriage.

You know, I can kind of understand that these religious organisations need this kind of pandering to try and make them feel better about the whole issue (it hasn’t, they continue to lobby against the bill anyway..).  But it makes me think ‘What are they truly threesomeafraid of?’.

It’s not like we’re planning to take over their churches, synagogues, or mosques (yes, it’s not just the Catholics or Anglicans..), or force them to perform some unspeakable act during a marriage ceremony.

All the gay community is looking for is to be treated equal to their straight counterparts.  And let’s be honest, a ‘civil partnership’ is not the same thing and perpetuates the notion that same-sex relationships are not as valid as heterosexual ones, and the legal rights are still not exactly the same as those conferred by marriage.

Home Secretary Theresa May and Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone say:

“Put simply, it’s not right that a couple who love each other and want to formalise a commitment to each other should be denied the right to marry.”

It’s great to see common sense is finally paving the way towards proper equality.

Gay Marriage: MP’s Debate and Vote

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So finally today, after years of debate and of ‘civil partnerships’ being allowed for gays and lesbians, the British parliament are voting on a bill that would legalise gay marriage in England and Wales.  It has also been called ‘equal marriage’ by some.

I would just call it marriage.  Gay or not, it’s the same thing to me.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill would enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies, where a religious institution had formally consented, in England and Wales.David Cameron

It would also allow couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage.

“Same-sex marriage is an important step forward and will make our society stronger” Prime Minister David Cameron has said. “Today is an important day. I am a strong believer in marriage. It helps people commit to each other and I think it is right that gay people should be able to get married too,” he said.

The fact that the Prime Minister himself is so strongly behind this bill (which I believe he initially introduced.. correct me if I’m wrong), says a lot for the progress being made in this county when to comes to equal rights.

I personally would just call them ‘rights’ since we all pay the same taxes, so should have all the same ‘rights’ regardless of whom we love.

As always, there’s always the arguments surrounding the church and being forced to perform same-sex marriages.  According to the BBC FE_DA_120730SameSexMarriage425x283website:

The government believes that the wording of the bill will ensure that the Church of England and the Church in Wales will not face any legal challenges to their strong stated opposition to holding same-sex marriages.

All religious organisations will be able to opt in to holding ceremonies – but the Church of England and the Church in Wales would first need to agree to change canon law.

I personally think it’s interesting that these religious organisations think that gay people are going to somehow ‘force’ a church to perform their marriage.  In fact, I personally find it somewhat delusional that the government had to put those exclusions in the bill in order to satisfy the religious-right that this change to marriage won’t intrude on their religious rights.

That’s right.. it’s been worded to ensure the church doesn’t feel encroached upon or forced into accepting same-sex marriage.gay marriage dot

But regardless of how it is happening, or even if I kinda think the wording of the bill is slightly pandering to religious groups, it is still a momentous step towards everyone having the same rights, and every citizen being treated the same.  Period.

Will this be the end of the fight for gay rights (if it is passed, which the political pundits seem to predict it will.. fingers crossed)?  Or is this just another step towards finally allowing the labels a lot of us live under to die out, and allow universal acceptance of all?

What do you guys think?

 

Understanding Eurovision.. Maybe

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So… being from Canada, I was totally oblivious as to what the ‘Eurovision Song Contest‘ was.

I’d kind of heard of it over the years, but I hadn’t really bothered to find out what it was all about.  It wasn’t something that was ever shown in Canada so what was the point.

Of course it’s different now that I’ve been in London for close to 4 years now… not that I really have a clue of what it’s all about still, but at least it can be fun to watch.  For the finals this past Saturday, I was perched at the bar in a Brighton bear pub after spending the day roasting in the glorious sunshine.  🙂

Mostly from my experience and from people I’ve talked to about it, it’s just a fun night of music.  Everyone knows it’s going to be cheesy… and some can be downright creepy.  Check out the pic of twins Jedward creating a heart with their hands. (They’ve now represented Ireland 2 years in a row..)

It’s meant to solely be entertainment.. but the more you read about it, the more you come across theories about how the voting is all political and so forth.  Umm.. ok, it’s a song contest people.

So… for those back home or outside Europe – What is Eurovision and what is the point of the contest itself?

Ummm.. no clue.  I checked their website (Eurovision.tv), but I didn’t really find much as the the ‘why’ the contest exists to begin with.

So I turned to good old Wikipedia for some information .. and the contest was set up by the European Broadcasting Union as a way of bringing together the countries of the EBU around a “light entertainment programme” as Europe was rebuilding after the war.

I’m not going to go through the 50-some odd years of history of this program .. Most of it is kind of boring, like when they changed the rules form this to that.  Or when they introduced the phone voting or the semi-final voting.

Or even that currently each year there are 6 countries that get an automatic pass into the live finals – the host country (previous year’s winner) and the ‘Big 5’ (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom).  After a bit of reading on Wikipedia and the official website, I eventually found out this was because those 5 country’s broadcasters (BBC for the UK) are the biggest financial contributors to the contest and broadcast itself, and that it couldn’t be shown without their financial backing.

There’s a whole bunch of other information about the contest that I read through.. but to be honest, it’s not much more exciting .. and I got completely lost as to why countries like Iceland, Israel, Morocco, Russia, and such were able to participate in the contest when they’re not even part of Europe or the EU (there was a bunch of latitude and longitude numbers thrown around to explain the area..).

If you really want to know more about it, check out the Wikipedia page, or the Eurovision website itself.

I’m sure I could probably wrap my head around it all, but it’s late and I’ve got to be up for work in the morning. 😉

I’ve decided to just try and enjoy the music… even if most of it is cheesy (check out the Russian entry from this year .. and they came 2nd!).  And I’m not even going to discuss the UK’s entry.

Here’s the 2012 winning entry from Sweden.. It’s totally catchy, dancey.. and gotta love the lighting/camera work done for her performance.

Loreen performing ‘Euphoria’

London gets snowed in…

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It was a bit funny.  Last week, I was making fun of my friends and family back home because of all the snow they got recently.  And now I’m the one stuck at home because of the snow … in London.  London never gets snow like this…

img_00691Last night, London (and most of the UK) got hit by a bad storm, with about 6 inches (15 cm) of snow hitting London, with other parts of Britain and Scotland getting even more.  This is the most snow the UK has seen in about 18 years, and there’s still more to come – about another 4 inches or so later today (Monday).

IMPACT OF THE SNOWFALL (as per BBC website)

One of two runways closed at Heathrow
Passengers stranded at Gatwick
Southampton Airport closed

London City and Luton airports closed
London buses withdrawn
Train services cancelled

Hundreds of schools closed

img_00701As for myself, I thought nothing of still getting up and going into work.  Back home, this amount of snow wouldn’t have been a big deal, and everyone would still go about their days as normal.

img_0071I didn’t get very far … I got as far as Gospel Oak overground station when they announced that all Westbound trains were being cancelled, and that everyone should try to find other transportation, if they absolutely needed to be out traveling in this weather.  At the same time, I’d heard from several of my agents, plus my friend Vince who works with me, that the District line on the Tube was closed as of Earl’s Court towards Richmond/Gunnersbury.

So with all this info, I decided to try to head back home … only to get stuck at Highbury & Islington station for close to 2 hours img_0080waiting for a train to come so I could go home.  All in all, this little trek, 1/3 of the way to work, took me about 4 hours!!  A trip that normally only takes maybe 20 to 30 minutes on a normal day (generally takes me 1 1/2 hrs to get to work, door to door).

So, should be interesting to see what happens tonight and tomorrow, and how the transport services are running.  Who knows .. maybe I’ll have a second snow day.  🙂