Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A Landmark Victory for the LGBT Community - DOMA and Proposition 8 Overturned.

The Supreme Court Logo
I was scouting the internet looking for research as I was just about to begin a blog on the One Direction Vs The Wanted 'feud' when I read that the US Supreme Court had overturned the Defence Of Marriage Act (which bans same-sex marriage) ruling it unconstitutional. Most of you may not know what DOMA was, as I didn't, but this decision is a huge milestone for the LGBT community and has contributed greatly towards marriage equality. They also ruled today that the Proposition 8 case had no legal standing to appeal against the same-sex marriage ruling in California, allowing it to resume and for gay couples to be legally marriage in the state.

So what exactly is DOMA? It was a controversial ruling, which took effect in 1996, that opposed same-sex married couples to be granted certain legal rights which heterosexual couples had - including tax exemptions, social security benefits and green cards. Section 3 of the Act also stated that the word 'marriage' only meant the union between a man and a woman and the spouse must be a member of the opposite sex, thus blocking federal recognition of same-sex marriage. This was today deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

What about this California Proposition 8 overruling? What's that I hear you ask? The background story to this proposition was that in 2008 California ruled in favour of allowing same-sex couples to get married, but some people (naturally) opposed this and devised a way to block the ruling from taking effect - hello Proposition 8.  Basically Proposition 8 was a ballot asking the Californian electorate to answer 'yes' or 'no' on whether they believe their state should eliminate the right for gay couples to marry. The result were that 52% voted yes and 48% voted no. Fast-forward all the legal jargon... to put it simply, this vote overruled the recent law allowing gay marriage in that state and therefore it became illegal again. However today the Supreme Court said that this was also unconstitutional saying it unfairly discriminated against gay couples who wanted to marry, and as such all gay marriages that took place before Proposition 8 will now be fully recognised in the eyes of the law. If you followed all that, well done.

Love is love.
Whilst all this can be really confusing (and trust me, it took a good half an hour to get the gist of all the different ruling and appeals and what act did what) it's a double landmark victory for the LGBT community. One day, maybe, we can finally all be equal for being who we are. This act was blocking basic rights to people who just happened to be in love with someone of the same gender. Long-distance couples couldn't live in the same country because they weren't recognised as an actual couple and therefore couldn't gain a visa. Married gay couples could not be recognised as the next of kin to each other and as such lost many legal benefits if one partner was to pass away, the list goes on and on.

It really does amaze me how this act has been allowed to stand for so long when America claims to be a country that accepts homosexuality. It's also sad to hear that, whilst this ruling did come through, it did so only marginally - with a vote of 5-4. There are only 13 states in America that allow two loving adults of the same-sex to get married and form a union under law. The day that we all live side-by-side equal, regardless of skin colour, gender, age or sexuality is still so far away, but this victory is hopefully one of many to come in helping us achieve this goal. Love is love regardless of what gender, and today many gay people in America and elsewhere can have their heads' held high because it's a long-overdue step in the right direction.


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Sunday, 2 June 2013

Why Does The England Squad Never Win Anything?

I know many people say that we have to stop heaping pressure onto the England squad when they draw or lose matches because they are not as good as our nation and the FIFA rankings makes them out to be. However watching tonight's England V Brazil friendly, it would be understandable to say that we would struggle to qualify for the next World Cup if we play like we did in the first half. It says a lot when you have a squad of 11 Premier League quality players and your best player for 45 minutes is your goalkeeper - Joe Hart. I understand that many key players like Wilshere, Cleverely and Sturridge were ruled out as injured, so there's an argument that England were playing with a much weaker team - but is that an excuse?

Glen Johnson is at best - average.
There are players in the team that play for the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal - top quality teams playing at a competitive level, two include Champions League football, yet some looked like they were playing for a Sunday League team. How Glen Johnson gets an international call-up is beyond me, he's slow, he cannot hold his line and doesn't seem to be able to pass a ball. I know that Kyle Walker was also ruled out due to injury but if this is the second best right-back our country has to offer then we've got a problem. Another player that I was disappointed with was Michael Carrick - a Champions League winner with Man United. Yet with England he had trouble keeping hold of the ball, giving possession up on so many occasions and struggled to pick out any decent passes. He may not be an England regular but he has failed to show any real spark when playing at international standard. James Milner is another one who has failed to justify why he should have a place in the England squad, my theory being he's only there because of so many injured team-mates. The first half of tonight's game he was virtually none existent going forward and when he did get the ball, he either passed it back to Baines or lost possession - as you can tell, I'm not a fan (I actually groaned when I saw his name in the line-up).
James Milner is ineffective.

As said in many tabloids and media outlets, one of England's problems is that they aren't technically gifted enough and I think this is true to a certain extent. I'm not saying that the players should be playing like Barcelona with their tiki-taka tactics but it's so infuriating when these supposedly world class players cannot string four or five passes together and the quality is, to put it nicely, sloppy. The only way we can beat players is do a 'kick and run' down the wings, which defenders with pace can easily deal with. Our tactics in the first 20 minutes of tonight's game was for Hart to pass it out to one of his defenders, for them to pass it forward, then to be passed back to the defence (if we didn't actually lose possession), all the way back to Hart to be booted up field and Brazil to mount another attack.

Should youngsters get more opportunities?
I'm not naive and understand that England are simply not good enough to look like serious contenders to win the World Cup but I feel that the team needs to start being revolutionised. What I mean by this is to start shifting out all the dead weights and OAPs (like Defoe) in the team and start bringing in a new generation of English players. We have won nothing since 1996 and we have not looked like winning anything for a number of years so why do we insist on picking the same players and the same formation when it is not working? I reiterate the argument made by many fans in that I believe players should be picked based on their performance at club level and not whether they play for Man United or any other top club. Take Danny Welbeck for example (although he's injured now) selected to travel to Brazil although he scored a grand total of 2 goals in his 2012-13 season. How can a striker, who's job is to find the back of the net yet only scored 2, deserve an international call-up over other English strikers like Ricky Lambert - who scored more than double Welbeck's total.

I will cut them a little bit of slack in that it is the end of the season and there will be some tired legs but the quality has been the same for many years - some players just don't step up to the occasion and perform. The only player I could argue who is of true world class quality is, expectedly, Jack Wilshere and until we start producing players of similar quality we will not win anything.


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