by David R. Farnsworth, MA, LPC, NCC
Just some thoughts on DOMA.
Now, I’m a therapist, not a lawyer or a politician, so when I think of DOMA, I think of the emotional aspect of its symbolism in the lives of lesbian and gay individuals. That is not to say that heterosexual folks can’t empathize, but it is quite a painful statement of inequality when your government declares that your relationship with the one person you love is invalid. With as much resiliency a gay individual can muster in that stiff upper lip, it is difficult NOT to internalize negativity into his/her identity as a person in this society. Just the mere verbiage alone…”defense of marriage act”… has such a powerfully insidious meta-message. Not only is a gay person unable to have his or her relationship validated by the government, the institution of marriage itself has to be PROTECTED and DEFENDED against gay people. How does this alone not make gay people think twice about who they are and who they love? It is high time that discriminatory laws such as DOMA be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Yes, DOMA’s demise does not make same-sex marriage legal, and the LGBT community has many more legal fights ahead, but it is the statement alone that has the potency of an antidote to gay individuals and couples. There was an emotional healing that began to take place the other week that will continue on in the lives of gay people and those who love and support them. More importantly, our children will not grow up in a country where our government endorses discrimination.
As I stood in the middle of Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh early that morning, I felt my husband beside me and my daughter’s hand in mine. A lesbian couple in their fifties gave their gay pride flag to my daughter who had already asked the simple and innocent question, “Daddy, why is everyone getting together in the streets on a work day and being all excited?” And thus, I had to explain to my 6-year-old daughter about one of the many injustices in the world. To which she replied, “Ok, I can celebrate something that should already be like normal!”
So in this blog, to whomever may read it in public or in private, please be encouraged. Embrace the honesty and authenticity of your love. Bring your legitimacy and quest for legalization inward to know that your love is yours and it is valid. Even though the death of DOMA was a grand taste of external validation, enjoy it like the sweet pleasure of dessert, but may you always remember that your true nourishment will come from within yourself.
Nothing can be harder than watching your spouse, partner, boyfriend,or girlfriend endure this discriminatory pain, so hold them close and remind them that the love you share is more powerful than laws and especially other people’s fears.
And to all lesbian and gay individuals out there… know that a very wise 6-year-old insists that you all celebrate that which “should already be like normal!”