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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

Q The California Supreme Court has overturned the state’s gay marriage ban. Critics of gay marriage have responded by placing Proposition 8 on the November ballot; Prop 8 will ask Californians to revoke the right of marriage for same-sex couples. As a South Asian, I see many benefits to including the gay and lesbian community in the right to marry. Could you offer your thoughts on this?

A I believe marriage is a right for everyone based on their desire to love and commit to another person. Upholding marriage as a heterosexual privilege is not only unconstitutional, but actually undermines the attempts of all couples to have the opportunity to be recognized as legitimate and respected.

As South Asians, we are raised to deeply value coupling and marriage. Unless you are a monk or a nun, you are expected to marry. Although South Asian parents may at first have difficulty with a child who is gay or lesbian, my experience has shown that after some ambivalence and deliberation, they deeply want their child to be “married and settled.” Once they come to accept their lesbian or gay child and partner, they actually prefer that their child be married, rather than “just living” with their partner.

I believe that when gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry, people in various communities will be more respectful toward them. There is much power in the state sanctioning and protecting not only the rights of heterosexuals, but also others. As a psychological principle, when a society recognizes and supports an individual’s lifestyle, the individual feels valued, esteemed, and participates more fully in family and community. Inclusiveness engenders greater psychological health and inspires contribution from every member of society.

Q I need some medical attention, a check-up to make sure I am ok and to evaluate some minor pain I have in my joints. I generally avoid doctors and dentists because I am not into modern medicine and hate being a patient. I know it would give me peace of mind to see the doctor; however, I keep procrastinating.

A This is not uncommon, especially if you weren’t raised to get regular check-ups through the modern medical system. What is it that you hate about being a patient? Is it that you might find out you have an illness you don’t want to know about or deal with? Is it that you feel intimidated by doctors, or that you may not be able to ask the right questions? Many people avoid the dentist because they find having fingers and metal in their mouths and injections in their gums uncomfortable, painful, and even scary.

Modern medicine and dentistry have become friendlier and less uncomfortable. Doctors, although quite rushed and pressured these days, are trained to have better “bedside manners.” If you do have an illness, it’s best to get it diagnosed early and get appropriate care to heal. Just as with a car, if you don’t address one small problem, it will affect another part of the engine and lead to a bigger and costlier issue. Your body is similarly vulnerable.

There are various kinds of non-allopathic practitioners who can also help you these days. These include ayurvedic and naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and other types of holistic care.

Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist in the Bay Area. 650-325-8393.

Alzak A.

Alzak Amlani is a counseling psychologist of Indian descent in the Bay Area. (650) 325-8393.