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DAVID ROSMAN: On the brink of marriage equality, and perhaps, understanding depression

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Could Missouri be number 25?

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has elected to take the challenges to the state’s anti-marriage equality amendment to federal court, skipping the state court process.

With the two cases now pending — one from St Louis the other from Kansas City — Koster wanted a broader ruling than what the state courts could declare with their limited jurisdiction.

The primary case involves a couple who were denied a marriage license in Jackson County. In part the suit alleges that “Missouri's constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage violates equal-protection and due-process rights under the U.S. Constitution,” thus the change in venue.

Although Koster, a Democrat and a possible 2016 Missouri gubernatorial candidate, has stated that he supports marriage equality, he has also said he is obligated to defend the state’s constitution as it concerns this particularly thorny issue.

In 20 cases as of this writing and since the U.S. Supreme Court’s DOMA decision in June 2013, the courts have agreed that the various bans on same-sex marriage are an apparent violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Jackson County case falls into the same category, and the lower court’s finding should be similar.

I have argued over the last year that Missouri’s amendment needs to be brought to the federal court system, and the sooner the better. I have argued that the laws prohibiting same-sex marriages also violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, as the argument against marriage equality falls back on a biblical “traditional” argument.

Yes, Missouri Constitutional Amendment 2 passed with a whopping 71 percent of the vote in 2004. However, a decade later, that number has shifted to between 53 and 60 percent of Missourians believing that same-sex couples have the right to be married, depending on whose poll you wish to accept.

It is not that I want to take my conservative and mostly conservative Christian friends kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but it is about time we grow up and understand that a marriage is licensed by the state, not by any religious sect.

I belive it is proper for Koster to take the lawsuit to federal court. I believe the District Court will rule as others have, in favor of marriage equality. I believe the Supreme Court will also rule in favor of marriage equality, as it did in the DOMA case. I believe it is right and the right time for the law to change.

***

On another matter, the loss of Robin Williams saddens me greatly. I identified with his personality and his battle with depression.

Depression is a major problem and one that often seems to be swept under the rug, sad to say. We are terribly short on therapists and doctors to handle the cases of depression and bi-polar afflictions, unless you are relatively wealth and can afford a doctor out-of-pocket.

Williams' reported suicide also hits close to home and is another topic that seems to be taboo. I am a suicide-attempt survivor and understand the deep depression and feeling of loss that comes with the territory.

I “know” the pain Williams suffered, though I do not share the addictive personality he had. I don’t drink and have never taken drugs that were not prescribed. I do not know what it is like to delve into a world that Williams talked about so openly.

As The Guardian wrote in its tribute to Williams: “There are still those who can’t seem to resist the opportunity to criticise, as they do these days whenever a celebrated or successful person commits suicide.”

We are not “selfish” as some may believe. We have come to the point where we see no end to the mental anguish and pain. We cannot just “snap out of it,” as some believe.

In the United States, someone successfully commits suicide once every 13 minutes. In 2011, there were almost 40,000 successful suicides in the U.S. alone.

Those most prone to suicide are men between the ages of 45 and 64. There are no statistics on the number of suicide attempts. For some, surviving the attempt is proof positive that they are failures.

Williams will be missed. His humor and insight into human nature were second to none. He was the most versatile of actors and entertainers. But maybe his death will open the door so others may seek help from family, friends and professionals.

We cannot keep depression in the closet any longer.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He writes a regular column for the Missourian.


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Comments

Mark Foecking August 13, 2014 | 12:07 p.m.

"We cannot keep depression in the closet any longer"

I wouldn't say it's in the closet at all. Awareness of depression has exploded in my lifetime.

But the incidence of many mental disorders has exploded during my lifetime also. I'm not sure we can say that life is any harder - in fact from a strictly material perspective it's far easier - and I'm wondering what's changed.

I keep coming back to the fact that we've become very bad at counting our blessings. We lose sight of all that is right and good and easy about our lives and focus on what's wrong. We expect life to be a certain way, and if it's not we blame ourselves or someone else.

It may not be a matter of "snapping out of it". But I suspect that attitude plays a larger part than the mental health community will endorse.

DK

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 13, 2014 | 1:38 p.m.

DK:

One difference is that more of us once acknowledged there is something greater than we are. The degree of hubris of some modern humans truly surpasses all understanding.

I am a huge fan of psychochemotherapy because I've seen what it can accomplish (although it isn't limitless), but anyone who believes medical science alone is going to "bail him or her out" is living in fool's paradise.

(Report Comment)

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