January 18, 2010
By Brian Leubitz
As this trial goes on, it is viewed in the context of two adults who love each other wanting to share their lives together. But there is so much more than that to the issue of marriage equality, it is about the entire nature of what it means to be different in California or America as a whole. In his testimony, Dr. Ilan Meyer, discussed this issue:
Columbia University professor Ilan H. Meyer, an expert in mental health issues among gays, lesbians and bisexuals, testified that gays and lesbians were more likely to suffer from mental disorders than heterosexuals because of discrimination.
Proposition 8 sent “a message that gay relationships are not respected, that they are of secondary value if they are of any value at all,” Meyer said. He also said the 2008 measure made the public statement that it was OK “to designate gay people as a different class of people in terms of their intimate relationships.” (LA Times)
It shouldn’t be all that surprising that there are mental health concerns associated with the stigma of being a second-class citizen. You could look to the doll tests that were used in Brown v. Board of Education and know that much. Being marginalized by society causes the marginalized to lose self-esteem.
That’s why this case is so important to LGBT youth. Studies have repeatedly shown that LGBT youth show much higher rates of suicidal thoughts and higher rates of suicide attempts. This is not a mere coincidence. This comes from having to hide a big part of who these teens are, and being told that being gay is to be less than a full human.
This trial very may well be one of those moments that allows some teen out there a moment of hope. And, as we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, we should also remember Harvey Milks words, “you gotta give ‘em hope.”