A Proposition Not Worth Making

November 6th, 2008

In the wake of Proposition 8 passing in California, I’ve been reflecting on what this means for LGBT folk.  For those who don’t know, Proposition 8 is a referendum that passed a few days ago, creating a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

California is a long way away from Washington, DC.  But the vote reverberates throughout the country.  But what exactly does this have to do with therapy, mental health, and such?

Well, I think that this ban and the media attention it has received can have a couple effects on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender folks.  First off, the fact that same-sex marriage was legal in California could have a positive effect on the self-esteem and self-regard for a bunch of folk who have been victimized by homophobia and heterosexism.  For once, LGBT folk see that there is a place for them in society.  Maybe all of the negative messages LGBT people have heard, and to some degree internalized, are not true.  This is a great development.

However, the flip side is that, yet again, LGBT people are reminded that there is a sizable portion of people who disapprove.  This can reinforce the negative self-image created by a homophobic society.  And negative self-image can be one source of depression, anxiety, and self-defeating behaviors. 

So, this proposition was one that California shouldn’t have taken…or even made.  It’s not in the best interest of all.  And it certainly is harmful to many.  But, LGBT people can still find hope.  Change is possible. And I’m hopeful that it’s inevitable!

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