Thursday, February 02, 2006

Shrink's Client Base Growing After Texas Marriage Ban

(Link) Two months ago, an "overwhelming" number of votes banned same-sex marriage in Texas. Today, mental health pros report a similarly overwhelming number of new patients suffering the emotional fallout of being messed with by Texas.

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
By: Bob Robuck
News 8 Austin

An overwhelming amount of Texans approved a ban on gay marriage when they voted in November. That action may have disenfranchised a large number of the state's gay population and hurt their emotional well-being.

"After the election and through December, we are aware that the number of clients that we're dealing with who have suicidal thoughts and behaviors or actions really dramatically increased," Derek Leighton with Waterloo Counseling Center said.

Waterloo Counseling Center in Austin primarily treats gay and lesbian clients in need of therapeutic emotional support. Some of them are deeply affected by the ban.

"It brings up the same kinds of feelings of inadequacy or not being wanted or not being a part of, and separated out from," client Danny Fowler said.

Some gays and lesbians say they feel like second-class citizens. Counselors at the center aren't immune either.

"I felt betrayed, and I felt alone. The feeling that 90 percent of Texas didn't value me. It wasn't about whether I wanted to get married or not. It was more about Texas is saying, 'You're not OK,'" Waterloo Executive Director Gail Goodman said.

The vote to ban gay marriage is having long-lasting effects on the state's gay and lesbian community.
Goodman and her partner of 11 years, Lynne Milburn, say they feel unsafe and have thought about moving to another state.

Moving away is something others have already done.

Lynne, who is a career counselor at UT, says this could take a severe bite out of Texas' workforce and its economy.

"What they've shown is that cities that are flourishing the most have the highest population of gay and lesbian people," Milburn said.

"What I'm hearing in the business community is that Texas is becoming less competitive because companies in the West, companies in the Northeast, are more embracing of diversity, and so we're having some very talented, probably overeducated, over-achieving people leave Texas," Goodman added.

"I'm a fifth-generation Texan, and I have deep roots here but maybe it's time, maybe it's time to just leave and give up. There was that part of me. And then there was that other part of me. It's the part that loves this state. It's the part of me that wears the crazy shirts that have the Texas flag that says 'home' on it. This is my home," said Goodman.

Waterloo Counseling Center has therapists specifically trained in handling these types of issues.