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?

 

Happy (Canadian) Mother’s Day

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I just wanted to take a few moments to wish my Mom, my sisters, and all other mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day.

Of course, I had to look up when Mother’s Day was back in Canada.. as here in the UK, it was back on March 18th.. Which is apparently the fourth Sunday in Lent.

Oh ok.. wait, but when’s Lent? lol

I never knew until I moved to London that Mother’s Day was celebrated on different days around the world.  Reading through Wikipedia about it, I realised it wasn’t just the UK that was on a different day, but the entire world celebrates it at different times.

For instance, in Spain, Portugal and Hungary, Mother’s Day was last Sunday.. whereas in Norway it’s always the second Sunday in February.

Hell, Indonesia and Panama don’t celebrate the day until December, and it’s not even called Mother’s Day!  (Panama celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, for instance..)

Again, according to Wikipedia:

Celebrations of mothers and motherhood occur throughout the world. Many of these trace back to ancient festivals, like the Greek cult to Cybele, the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the Christian Mothering Sunday celebration. However, the modern holiday is an American invention and not directly descended from these celebrations.[1][2][3] Despite this, in some countries Mother’s Day has become synonymous with these older traditions.[4]

Julia Ward Howe was the first to proclaim Mother’s Day in 1870. Her Mother’s Day Proclamation was a pacifist reaction to the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in America. She then began a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States. Although she was successful in 1914, she was already disappointed with its commercialization by the 1920s. Jarvis’ holiday was adopted by other countries and it’s now celebrated all over the world.

Now, as this ‘holiday’ was adopted around the world, the date in each country was changed to fit any already existing celebrations of motherhood, some of them religious celebrations.

In fact looking at the UK and Ireland, originally the fourth Sunday after Lent was called Mothering Sunday, which is ‘a Christian festival celebrated throughout Europe that falls on the 4th Sunday in Lent‘.  In the UK and Ireland, it eventually became synonymous with Mother’s Day as celebrated in other countries.

Basically what I found was that most countries, regions and religions already had some kind of celebration surround motherhood before the modern commercialized Mother’s Day was adopted around the world.  The day means different things to different countries, and some even have different traditions and different ways of marking the day.

Regardless of the country, customs, or traditions you follow, let’s all remember to be thankful to our mothers, whether they’re near or far, for everything they’ve done for us over our lifetimes.

We couldn’t be who we are without them.

~M~

Catherine Tate – John’s a Gay Man Now

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OK… I found this clip on another blog (A Hag Supreme), and I thought it was just too funny NOT to share with all of you.

For those who don’t know her, Catherine Tate is a riot.  She’s kinda the UK version of Carol Burnett, only not as classy .. which at times makes it even more fun.   LOL

One of my favorite clips of Catherine Tate is of her character ‘Nan’ appearing on the UK version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to find it on YouTube.  If anyone has a copy of it, let me know so I can post it here.

Enjoy!

~M

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.  🙂

Welcome to the White House

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Some might be wondering why a Gay Canadian living in the UK would feel the need to comment on the new President of the United States.  And feat_624x351_inaug_prelaunchwhy I would feel it would even remotely affect me.

Because it affects us all, no matter where we live, who we are, and how we live our lives.

Welcome to the White House.

That’s right, that’s the real link to the White House website, and as the site states, ‘Change has come to America‘.  And this change has been long over due, and not just for our American cousins.

As for me, I’ve always been somewhat outspoken about my general dislike towards the American people.  This was never because of any one thing, just an overall distaste towards their holier-than-thou, bible-thumping, we-rule-the-world attitude.

And their complete and utter ignorance of Canada.

You ask most Americans NOT living in a border state what the capital of Canada was (hell, some probably can’t even tell you WHERE Canada is…), and they will get it wrong the majority of the time.  But at the same time, whenever they go traveling (especially around Europe), they pretend to be us because they know they’ll be treated nicer.  Canadians definitely have the better reputation around the world…

Now, to be honest, I don’t know how Barack Obama being the new President will help this ignorance, but one can only hope there’ll be some kind of change in the US education system.  Hope .. Pray … Beg … Whatever.  LOL

For me, the reason Mr Obama’s election excites me is because he is the first minority President in the history of the US, despite their centuries of ignorance, racism, and prejudice.  And as a fellow minority (yes, being Gay is considered being a minority), this makes me believe that anything is possible in the world and gives my soul a much needed confidence boost.

Not to mention that he has very openly come out in favor of gay marriage in the US, something I don’t beleive many other politicians there would be willing to do.  (See Gay Rights Watch for more info on how he stands on this and other important Gay Rights issues)

In the end though, what I think he’ll do most of all is help restore and revitalize the tarnished image of Americans after the disaster that was the Bush administration. What a mess that was….

Damn, guess that means no more ‘talking monkey’ jokes … oh well.

Welcome to the White House, Mr Obama.  May your stay have the intended affect that all of us are hoping for.

My Broken Mobile – Getting a PAC code

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Alright, so here’s the latest installment in my mobile saga.  As I last  wrote, I recently bought myself an iPhone to replace my broken Pay-As-160px-orange_logoYou-Go phone on the Orange network.

Well, for the last week I’ve been trying to cancel that phone and move my number to the iPhone on the O2 network.  I’ve called several times now, and each time I’ve been given the run-around.  And it’s really starting to piss me off!!!

You see, in or100px-o2_logosvgder to move your number to another provider, you’re required to get a PAC code from your current one.  ‘A PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) is a unique identifier which mobile and fixed-line telephone network providers (in the UK and various other countries) issue to a customer so they can port their number to another network.’ (Yes, that is copied from Wikipedia … figured if I was going to put info on here, it might as well be the correct info…)ofcom-logo

Now, again as per our friend Wikipedia, here are the rules with issuing PAC codes, as per Ofcom (independent regulator and competition authority for the communication industries in the United Kingdom) :

  1. Your current Service Provider must give you a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) or a reason why it cannot be issued within 2 working days of your request. You can obtain your PAC by calling the customer service group of your current network. Usually your network operator will be able to provide your PAC over the phone and will then follow this up in writing.
  2. Your PAC is valid for a period of 30 calendar days and your request must be submitted to your new Service Provider within that time.
  3. Your number can then be transferred anytime between 2 and 32 calendar days from the date your PAC is issued.

Now, apparently Orange has changed the rules about issuing PAC codes to their customers who want to move their number to another provider:

As of 2006 Orange have changed their policy on Porting Authorisation Codes such that they will no longer issue them over the phone. If you request a PAC from Orange they will send it out via a letter, through Post which can take 5 to 7 working days excluding the bank holidays. If customer doesn’t receive the PAC within that period then Orange Sends PAC through a Text Message. Orange claims that this is an OFCOM requirement and Subject to Orange Policies. Caution – if you decide not to use your PAC within 30 days, then your contract will not terminate.

According to that same Wikipedia page, most of the other UK providers don’t make their customer’s jump through hoops in order to move their telephone number over.  Orange seems to be the only ones trying to make it difficult.

Now, technically it has been 5 business days since I initially requested the PAC from Orange, which would mean they are in violation of the Ofcom rule of having the PAC issued within 2 working days.

The first time I called for it, I was told I’d have to wait for a minimum of 24 hours until my ‘account was registered’, which didn’t make any sense to me since I’d been using my phone for over 4 months.  How could it not be registered?

And then, most recently, when I called this afternoon, I was transferred twice, and then placed on hold for well over 40 minutes, only to be told the department I needed to speak to was ‘too busy’, and that someone would call me back within 24 hours … solely to verify my name and address.  (Note: After reading the Wikipedia site, this now makes more sense to me … doesn’t mean I like it though)

To be honest, I’m wondering if it’s even worth the hassle.  I’ve been given a temporary number with O2 (no clue what it is…), so maybe I’ll just have to say screw Orange and forget about moving my number.

And this after I FINALLY memorized my current number … only took me 4 1/2 months.

I’ll keep ya posted.  😉

Lead-up to the move

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So here I am, a little over 3 months living in London, moving over here from Canada.  This was something I’d always dreamed of doing, but never thought it would even happen… at least not without winning the lottery or something!

Moving over here without really knowing anyone has been the biggest challenge of my life, and at times I wonder what the hell I was thinking!

The rest of the time I keep kicking myself in the ass for not doing this sooner!!!!

I admit, moving to another country, regardless of what country you’re moving too, is not an easy task.  It can be stressful, annoying, crazy, scary and pretty much any other emotion that can get your heart pounding so fast you’d almost think you were about to have a heart attack.

But once you’ve done it, even if it’s a country where they speak the same language as you (regardless of the accent), you get this feeling of euphoria and empowerment.  You come to realize that there’s nothing that truly stop you from whatever your heart desires.

Surprisingly, I arranged this move fairly smartly, with TONS of help from my family (especially Dad).  For those that don’t know the story, I sat down to think August 2007 about where I’d truly love to live.  At the time, I had been living in Montreal for over 7 years and needed a chance of scenery.

Upon reflection, I’d decided I really didn’t want to live in Toronto (sorry guys… totally pales in comparison to Montreal), Ottawa, or Vancouver, but I had always wanted to live in London, or anywhere in Europe for that matter.  I thought about it for a few days before emailing my Dad, who was born and raised in London before moving to Canada about 40 years or so ago.  I simply asked him what I would need to do if I decided I wanted to move to London.  He took that simple inquiry and ran with it…

Next thing I knew, we were applying for long-form birth certificates, passports, and looking at flights to London.  I don’t remember when I made the actual decision to move here, but I do remember realizing it was actually happening… and almost chickening out.  Several times.

Long story short, I spent the next 9 months doing research online into life in London (nothing like the brochures… and that’s a good thing!), flights, accomodation, transportation, and saving as much cash as I could.  The money came in real handy, as it allowed me to not work the first month I was here, but too bad it wasn’t enough to last forever, as I eventually did have to find a job.

Of course, just like any other well laid out plan, things didn’t go as I’d originally wanted.  My original arrival date was supposed to be around the first week or so of July, with me leaving Montreal at the end of June (with a bit of time left in between to spend with family, obviously).  Due to delays with my British Passport (that’s right, baby… I’ve got dual citizenship!), I still left Montreal as planned, only to go stay with family in my home town for the entire summer.

That definitely wasn’t in the plan… but it turned out to be a great thing.  It allowed me more than sufficient time to spent with some of my family (the rest, well, just didn’t seem interested…), and it allowed me time to de-stress from my job in Montreal while lazing around my sister and brother-in-law’s house.  I spent the summer doing nothing more than playing with my little nephew, surfing the internet, smoking way too many cigarettes, and playing around on my bro-in-law’s XBox 360.  Oh, and spending 2 weeks at my parent’s trailer on Lake Ontario…. still got a bit of that tan left.

Anyway (so much for a short story), my passport eventually came in and things got really real for me.  All of a sudden it was time to actually get things going after it had been in a holding pattern for way too long.  Talk about a complete freak out!  That night I drank my face off, smoked about a half pack of cigs, and eventually puked my guts out, thinking. “OMFG, I’m moving to LONDON!!!!!”.

With two days of getting the passport and realizing I actually had to do this crazy, f’d up thing, I had secured myself a temporary place to live in somewhat Central London, had changed over a large chunk of my cash into British Pounds, and had my flight booked thanks to my parental units…. and I was actually leaving in about 2 weeks!!!  What a roller-coaster.

During that last two weeks, I think I freaked out about a million times, and almost backed out daily, but I stayed the course.  I was about to do something most people could only dream of, let alone actually do.  I was moving to one the most magnificent and historic cities in the world… all by myself.  Talk about scary.

But I’m so glad I’ve done it.  I’ve been enjoying London immensely.  Guess I’m writing about that next….