Marriage and Family Therapist
Julie Cohen is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist MFT and a Child Mental Health Specialist with a private practice in Los Angeles. Her areas of focus include: depression, anxiety, panic, post-traumatic stress, bipolar…
Prop H8
Posted in Bisexuality by Julie Cohen on Nov 06, 2008


As the world has been fixated on the election so have I and as a result I am well over due for an article.  And although my topics generally focus on mental health when the world literally changes overnight so does my blog!

As I watched it all unfold from my living room in a suburb of Los Angeles, two races were on my mind.  Of course the presidential election being one and the second, the highly controversial, extraordinarily expensive and heated proposition 8 which sought to ban same-sex marriage in California by changing the state's constitution to include discrimination.  Can you tell which side I am on? 

At approximately 8:00 pm (Pacific Time) as the polls closed on the west coast, almost instantly the television news anchor announced "we now project that Barak Obama is the President elect" This historic stunning moment took my breath away and will be one of those moments that I will always remember. 

And at about 8:05 pm the results started coming in on prop 8 and from overwhelming joy I felt a giant punch in my stomach.  Even though the polls were just starting to report, it looked bad.  And as expected, when I woke up this morning prop 8 had passed by a narrow margin.  How could it be that in one moment a racial barrier was shattered and what was right and just in America conquered racism. And literally in the next moment hate reared its ugly head and division and discrimination through homophobia was given new life.    

If you didn't know or hadn't guessed yet, I am a Lesbian.  I am proud of who I am.  I have a loving partner of almost 14 years, a mortgage, a dog, a job, family and basically living what I think is a pretty normal and uneventful life.  I often wonder what have I done to others that I deserve to be treated as less than human.  Why was there more attention paid to the treatment of farm animals (prop. 2) in California than human rights?  (And I do value farm animals...a lot!).

For those of you not following California politics, just a few months back the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of civil rights and that separate is not equal.  And soon after Gay and Lesbians were granted the same rights awarded to every other adult citizen: The right to marry. 

It's an odd feeling when you realize how oppressed you were after that oppression is lifted. As bad as all of this is, the worst part in my opinion was before I was granted the right to marry I could only guess what it might be like to have the choice.  But, when I was granted "the choice," I now owned something tangible and I changed as a result.  I felt accepted by the State of California and for the first time I was no longer less than human.  I cannot put into words what that moment felt like.  But last night at 8:05 I remembered what I used to feel like just a few months back.   It's a demoralizing and alienating feeling to have a right granted to you and then taken away.   

For those of you who feel that loss tonight here in California or in another part of the Country know that it's normal to feel angry or depressed or even hopeless.  But, please know that you are not alone and we feel this together.  I was watching the news yet again tonight and 10,000 protesters marched peacefully on the streets of Los Angeles.  I saw in their faces pain and at the same time hope.  This battle goes on...



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Displaying comments 33-14 of 73
I was very shock to hear that Prop 8 passed as well. I'm wondering if what DrOrrange said was true, maybe on the ballot, people thought they were voting yes on Prop 8 meant YES on gay marriages, maybe many people mis-read the bill. I don't know and can't explain why there are so many people in California that wants to ban gay marriage.
By TruBlu  Nov 07, 2008
Why do people keep on saying that because I don't want to change thousands of years of tradition and family structure, that I am hating. I do not hate anyone. I do not agree with the gay/lesbian lifestyle, but I do not hate you for it either. I just do not want you to force others to accept YOUR agenda. You are the ones who are HATEing us who just want our children to understand that the basis of a stable society is a traditional family. I don't care what you do in your home, and I applaud your wish to support your loved ones with benefits afforded to married people, but can't I have the same consideration? Do my grandchildren have to be subjected to ideas that are against their family beliefs, with no recourse on their parents behalf? By the way, I hate divorce and I have been divorced 2 times. I do not claim to be perfect, but by pressing YOUR agenda on the majority of the rest of us, I feel you are trying to take away my rights. The agenda is trying to take away our right to teach the Bible, offer alternatives to the new World Order, and undermine our whole way of life. You are forcing changes in long held DEFINITIONS because you want to be like the rest of us. Well, isn't it the point that you do NOT want to be like the rest of us? On the contrary, I feel like I am the object of HATE because I believe in the BIBLE.
By CCS  Nov 07, 2008
If you didn't get the point- there should be a way for a recognized union between gays/lesbians, and non-religious men and women, and they should be granted the same rights as married couples. I just have a problem with using a Christian term to define something that is not considered a Christian act.

I also believe that people that live in states that don't recognize common law unions- between same or opposite sexes- those places should allow for the same rights that married couples have.
By kandyland2001  Nov 07, 2008
Another thing, marraige is the union between a man and a woman, under God. Marraige is a Christian union, a Jewish union, a Muslim union, etc., it is defined in several religions. If you do not believe in any of these religions, what is the point of getting married? That's like me wanting a Bat Mitzvah when I came of age- I'm not Jewish so it is pointless.

This is not just for gays or lesbians, it is pointless for any man and woman that want to marry and don't believe or follow these religions, as well. To say that you are a Christian, Jew, ... gay/lesbian is a contradiction, these religions state that this is a sin. You can't be both because it is a declared lifestyle, not an act like many other sins. E.G. Someone can steal something and repent- being a Christian, still, a person cannot be a thief (a definition of who they are) and be a Christian.

Furthermore, NO I don't believe that gays and lesbians should have less rights. I believe that job benefits, etc... should not be based on marraige. That would correct a lot of these issues. It would also allow for rights of male/female couples that are Aetheists, or other groups that don't believe in a God. I don't belive that anyone should have lesser rights, or not be treated equally, I just don't believe that marraige is for everyone.
By kandyland2001  Nov 07, 2008

Please. Do not sit up and draw outlandish comparisons. I can't see what you do in the bedroom, unless you are selling tapes. I won't know you prefer men or women unless you engage heavily in PDAs. To say that African Americans should be sympathetic to gays is just plain ignorant. When a gay person walks in the room, noone immediately says they are gay (unless they are in some outwardly fashion) trying to make that statement. When a Black person walks in they are Black. When a gay person was a child, (without sexual acts, tendencies, or thoughts), nobody looks at him/her and knew he/she was gay. When a little Black child walked in the room he/she was Black. A gay person can be any race or nationality- a Black person is Black. Black people have been discriminated against from the time they were born. When a gay person is born, that person will be treated the same as anyone else, at least until they begin to explore their sexuality.

Please don't try to say it is the same, it's not even close. Sorry you are SO mistaken.
By kandyland2001  Nov 07, 2008
In one of the political blogs I read it was reported that Californians were "under voting"---many people were just voting for president and not voting for other local and state initiatives. The blog author was speculating this to be the reason Prop 8 ended up passing. It never should have passed. Human rights mean rights for ALL.
By bamagal1960  Nov 07, 2008
I can't say I was shocked that prop 8 passed but I was definitely dismayed. I'm not a lesbian, in fact at this point I'm either a born again virgin or just plain Asexual. Regardless of my situation I believe gays should have the right to marry as everybody else. First and foremost for their own happiness. And also (I'm hoping this doesn't sound too crass) but also there is state revenue to be recognized. More weddings and and all the things that go along with it equal stimulating the economy. And on the flip side sadly divorce also promotes revenue to the courts, as well as the attorneys, but I won't even go there. I of course voted no on prop 8 but I do believe that it will be back on the ballot again in the future. However I'm infuriated that it did not pass this time. California is (my state) supposed to be one of the most liberal states in the country, but the people showed their true feelings. Beyond sad, actually scary.
By tomekasmom  Nov 07, 2008
So well said... and yes, the battle goes on and it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings! But then again, there will probably be a law against that too.
By HelloChrissy  Nov 07, 2008
I personally didn't receive a call, but heard there was flood of robo-calls with a recording of Barack Obama, saying he didn't believe in or support gay marriage. I wish I could give exact details. I'm very sorry that this measure succeeded, as you say, on the very evening a tremendous racial barrier was being pushed aside. It's a shame that we can't all accept and be accepted with dignity and equality. RT
By RippedThorn  Nov 07, 2008
Talk about having an open mind?? If the majority voted for it, then it's majority. Prop 4 didn't pass and you would assume that Christians would reach their far right hand in that one to stop killing babies but it didn't pass. Christians weren't the only people that voted for it. In a country that is being run down with relativism something needs to stand. If it's not the governments job to define it why did the judges overturn it after the people voted to keep it man+woman=marriage?? If there should be no discrimination why is everything about gay pride? The moment people want straight pride it's wrong. Please.
By Brita  Nov 07, 2008
The only way I have reconciled this in my mind (and the discrepancy between the exit polls and actual polls)is that people thought voting Yes on 8..meant a Yes on Gay marriage....but Im not sure
It just doesnt make any sense to me that in this election year when we made such progress Californians would vote for something that took basic rights away. I just cant imagine it...and I know we have many legal we all fight on
By DrOrrange  Nov 07, 2008
Julie, I have to say this has been one of the most horrific election weeks I have ever lived through. I am astounded, speechless, numb with grief and anger over what is happening in California.

To make matters worse my own state, Massachusetts, voted on whether or not to continue the state income tax. Had it been discontinued my public school music teaching position most likely would have been eliminated. I can only guess that the shortfall would have been levied through higher property taxes. So not only is my marriage a ballot issue (in an increasing number of states where I feel it is now unsafe if not dangerous for me to travel), but my job and my ability to keep my home were also dependent on a voted outcome. Fortunately, that measure did not pass.

It wasn't until the end of election day when the full impact of our vulnerability struck me: THREE of my BASIC NEEDS: marriage, job and shelter, were BALLOT ISSUES. The anger I have felt over having so much of my life dependent on the whim of voter opinion is beyond my ability to express.

I have never felt so endangered, stressed, alienated. I am having difficulty getting people even here on DS to understand just how threatened my existence is becoming.

I am glad that so many marched in LA - I just hope that we don't also have to march on Washington. I can't help feeling the same way as when Clinton was elected. "We're here, We're Queer, We're going to the White House!" and then we were slammed with Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Are we on the eve of the same kind of betrayal? I am finding it very difficult to be optimistic.

And to poster #19: it is easy to have a parental conversation with a child and give them YOUR views. As a teacher in Massachusetts I can assure you that no one is talking to 5 year olds about gay sex. It sounds to me like you've chosen to endanger LGBT lives and families so that you don't have to have a conversation with a child.

I wish I knew how to protest. I wish I knew how to yell louder than the conservative religious element in this country. I wish I knew how to make them understand and feel the pain they are inflicting on us. I wish I knew how to combat what feels to me like a homicidal urge coming from the religious right.

Apparently, for them, the belief that we are going to roast in hell for all eternity isn't punishment enough, they need to start hell a little early just for us.

Julie, I wish I knew how to respond to the tanks they are driving over our homes.
By Fiddler  Nov 06, 2008
Hi kidcomeback, No attacking here. I think you have a valid concern if that is what's really happening in Massachusettes. I have to wonder if that's an internet rumor, religious scare tactic or if it's factual, but lets assume it is factual. I personally am for gay marriage, but also don't think a 5-year old child should be bringing home booklets about it. They don't bring home booklets about straight married couples, at least my 5 year old doesn't. I think you made a good point when you said some people who are against it don't even know why, or can't explain why they are against it. Often times fear of the unknown is the sole reason for being against something. Chances are, most of the people who have voted for these bans have never had a close personal friend who was homosexual and in a long-term relationship. I take the responsibility as a parent to talk to my children openly and honestly, and for me, the questions started as young as 9 years old. My oldest asked me what a lesbian is. My response was very simple. It's a woman who falls in love with another woman instead of a man. It was all he needed. Young children don't usually need in depth answers. Hopefully my open and honest answers through the years will be enough to combat some of the ignorance on the issue for my children and for children they come in contact with who feed them misinformation throughout the years. I guess the education has to start somewhere, might as well be with me.

One more side note I find very interesting, that may open up a whole new can of worms, but I just can't help but put it out there. On the national news this morning, I heard this. They believe the reason Barack Obama was elected was because of such a strong movement among african-americans to get out and vote. I believe that's probably true, and rightly so. I've also heard that voting among white republicans and hispanics was down from past elections. They then pondered the question, if african-american's were the driving force in this election, and they came out so strongly to elect an african-american president. Can we then also assume that they are the same people who voted in these states to ban gay marriages? Surely they of all people would understand the prejudice and oppression that would come along with being a minority, so why then would they enforce those same prejudices on another group experiencing ignorance and intolerance? My understanding is that the african-american community is one of the hardest communities to "come out" in. They have the greatest number of people living on the "down low" and therefore take greater risks and having a higher instance of std's than other races. Please correct me if I am wrong, I get this information from friends who are medical professionals, and because a close relative of mine is living on the "down low" too. So what do you all think? Does that assumption hold any water? I'm curious to know your opinions.
By emeraldskye  Nov 06, 2008
if people want to be in gay relationships, then i believe they can be.. if they want to enter into civil unions, then ok. gay marriage shouldn't be passed in any state until every state is willing to accept gay marriage. if couples from other states go to MA to get married, then it's hard for them to get a divorce in there own state. then they're stuck in a marriage.

from the beginning of time marriage has been 1 man and 1 woman, and thats hat i believe in. just because i don't believe in gay marriage means i discriminate. if people want to be gay, thats fine.

and in america, the majority rules, and the majority in most states said they don't want gay marriage. i'm against abortion, yet the majority rules they want abortion, even though it's a cruel and selfish act.

there are alot of things i wish i could change.
By teenagewasteland  Nov 06, 2008
I hope you don't all attack me for what I'm about to say. I am also LDS and voted here in AZ for prop 102, but it wasn't until recently that I felt the same as my church about the same-sex marriage issue. I still feel like if gays want to get married why should we impose our beliefs on them? The reason I voted for 102 (which is similar to Cal Prop 8) is that recently I heard a number of stories about how in Massachussetts (I think that's where it was) they are required to teach in school that homosexual relationships are a normal lifestyle. That's not the part that I have a hard time with. It's the idea that they're teaching this to very young children without giving the parents a say about it. I heard one father was escorted in handcuffs out of school because he wouldn't leave until they assured him that they would notify him before they taught that to his next kid to go through the school (since his 5-year-old daughter had just come home with a booklet depicting a gay couple's normal life).
I think, given how difficult these issues are, that there should be a law that parents should be given notification before they teach these things in school, so the parent can opt their kid out of it. And even then, I think they should hold off on teaching the "normalcy" of gay relationships to kids until they are at least 16.
You may argue that gay relationships are normal. I'm not a sceintist or sociologist, so I'm not going to say whether or not its nature or nurture. But even those who are gay (actually, especially those who are gay) will probably admit that being openly gay in today's society requires a lot of emotional maturity and strength (for which I admire many of you), so to present these "options" to kids too early and without parental involvement (parents shouldn't have to explain gay or straight sex to a 5-year-old) is in my opinion very dangerous to a kid's well-being. Even in terms of heterosexuality, a kid who dabbles in sexual promiscuity too early can easily get in over their heads in terms of what they're emotionally capable of handling.
I think many Christians (and yes I'm aware that many people don't believe LDS are Christians) were too caught up in a discriminatory attitude about same-sex marriage. I think we should all be able to have a much more civilized (and less adversarial) public discussion. I think right now the blame is on those opposed to same-sex marriage because many of us have not explained our concerns (and many of us don't really know why we're opposed to it). I also think that if we could come up with some compromises then it would be wrong for us to say gays shouldn't get married.
So, in summary, my opposition to same-sex marriage is that I don't want my children learning in school about these mature topics until they're ready to emotionally handle them and until I feel they're old enought that my guidance will be helpful (I don't know what that age is, because each kid is different, but I would imagine somewhere between age 14 to 17). I realize that many of you will see my thinking as naive, but in the spirit of understanding, please try to be as open-minded as you expect anti-gay-marriage proponents to be. I think that kind of open-mindedness on the part of those who consider themselves open-minded could go a long way.
By kidcomeback  Nov 06, 2008
How sad that intolerance and discrimination (and it is discrimination) are so hard to extinguish. Judge not lest you be judged.
Straight but not Narrow!
Much Love.
By LCB  Nov 06, 2008
Thank you, Julie, for writing this. I can't understand why people have such a hard time with gay marriage (or gay anything). We're not asking you to BE gay, or even to have gays over for dinner. Truth is, many gay people may not like YOU either. What are you so afraid of? How on earth is a gay marriage going to affect YOUR marriage? My marriage (heterosexual) is solid and wholesome and loving, and none of that has anything to do with YOUR marriage or anyone else's.

Ever tried to take care of medical affairs for someone who was incapacitated? I actually have medical POA for grandpa and it is STILL a daily battle to be allowed to talk to doctors or make decisions for him. Imagine how difficult it is if you don't have the same rights to take care of your spouse as a married couple.

I am sick with sadness that California doesn't recognize that our constitution does and should continue to guarantee equal rights for residents. I pray that Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and others make some headway on this front yet.

Of course it is a ban, a removal of rights. Equal rights is part of California's constitution. Otherwise there'd be no need to change the constitution.

Thank GOD the US constitution can't be changed this easily.
By MontgomeryRats  Nov 06, 2008
Wow cablebabe, no one was talking about the abortion issue. No one wants a baby sucked out of their womb. They simply want to be able to have rights equal to you as far as marriage goes. Those things which include the right to visit a loved one in the hospital and be given information on their condition. The ability to leave their estate to their partner rather than family members who may be as ignorant as you. To be able to choose to insure their partner and children if they have them. Why should it matter to you or anyone else if they want to marry someone of the same or opposite sex. I think maybe some of the "christians" should take a page out of their book and learn how to stay in a commited relationship for 14 years. The same bigots live here in Florida too, it's so sad. Prop 2 on our ballot was also passed, but by a narrow margin. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Straight, Transgendered and anyone else I may be leaving out, we're all human beings, we all have feelings, and hopefully someday will all have the chance to fall in love with someone so special. I don't understand your hate. If you ask me, God loves everyone. They have heard you force your religious agenda down their throats for long enough. I think they have enough information to make their own decision on who they want to marry. And IF, if you're right, (which I doubt you are since God doesn't make mistakes, and he made each of us in his image),then it's them who has made the decision and will face God on judgement day...not you. What happened to the scripture "Judge not, lest ye be judged"? And if you really want to "save" these people, what makes you think they would want to follow a religion, or a god that preaches such hatred. Leave them alone! Geez! I'm gonna step down off my soap box now, this just comes from 21 years of being in an Assemblies of God church and hearing the pure hatred that comes out of most of their sermons. Not just toward gays and lesbians, but most other things in this world. It's unbelievable!!! Thank God that I was able to get out of that and see that most people are truly good, giving people, not the criminals the religious right makes them out to be. Shew, I think I'll go have a drink now. LOL! That ought to get a whole other sermon out of someone! Notice I said "a" drink...everything in moderation.
By emeraldskye  Nov 06, 2008
Sorry about that. I don't plan on ever getting married. I wish I could give you my certificate to use! Things change, don't lose hope, they always do.
By Bistro  Nov 06, 2008
I sorta have to disagree with you. Marriage is really just a piece of paper, depending on your beliefs. Same sex partners are afforded the same rights as herto marriages. All the hoop and holler about
denied equal rights just because you are in a same sex relationship is unreasonable. How about couples of a man and a woman who are partners, they are not given the same benefits as gay and lesbian partners. Discrimination and oppression is going a bit far, don't you think? I noticed you capitalize the L in lesbian. Do you think the M in marriage should be capitalized? Perhaps you need a bit of counselling and a change of attitude. I don't know who you hang out with, but I really don't think people "out there" are out to get you.
By renalwife  Nov 06, 2008

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