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By voting 'yes' on May 22, people can change forever what it means to grow up gay in Ireland.

Ireland is experiencing social shifts similar to those in America.

By voting 'yes' on May 22, people can change forever what it means to grow up gay in Ireland.

Gay couples are not legally allowed to get married in Ireland.

Image by Firemedic58/Flickr.


Although Ireland's constitution does not define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, the courts have interpreted it to mean that. Additionally, the Civil Registration Act, introduced in 2004, does indeed define marriage as being between a man and woman.

The country instead offers "civil partnership" options to gay, lesbian, and transgender folks.

Unfortunately, a civil partnership doesn't give all of the rights and responsibilities as marriage.

According to Marriage Equality, a not-for-profit that champions LGBT rights in Ireland, there are over 160 statutory differences between the two options. While they've worked with elected representatives to reconcile many differences,

"some very important inequalities remain. For example, Civil Partnership:
  • Does not permit children to have a legally recognised relationship with their parents - only the biological one. This causes all sorts of practical problems for hundreds of families with schools and hospitals as well as around guardianship, access and custody. In the worst case, it could mean that a child is taken away from a parent and put into care on the death of the biological parent.
  • Does not recognise same sex couples' rights to many social supports that may be needed in hardship situations and may literally leave a loved one out in the cold.
  • Defines the home of civil partners as a 'shared home,' rather than a 'family home,' as is the case for married couples. This has implications for the protection of dependent children living in this home and also means a lack of protection for civil partners who are deserted."

What message does it send when two groups are conferred differing (and unequal) rights?

On May 22, Ireland will vote on a referendum for marriage equality.

If the referendum passes, Ireland's constitution will be amended to include the following language: "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex."

Just like that, with 17 simple words, all Irish citizens would have the same legal right to get married.

So BeLonG To Youth Services is encouraging people to vote for "yes" for equality — and to bring along their family!

Equality is good for everyone.


Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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