Several people already know this, but I'm a straight guy in a same-sex marriage. After 20 years of marriage, my husband realized that he's transgender -- a man, not a woman. Lots of people asked us if we were going to stay married, and I think the answer to that is pretty obvious. You get married "until death do us part." I married my best friend, I didn't marry for sex. I live in an unusual marriage landscape now, in terms of what other people think, but I'm proud to be married to Ian and love him with all my heart, just as I loved the female "incarnation" before. Being trans doesn't change who a person is; they don't suddenly become a "discard."
But that's all only by means of introduction to the issue. See, yesterday Ian happened to be at a gay bar, hanging out on the porch with friends from his LGBT circle. And yesterday, in another state, at pretty much the same time, someone opened fire in a similar gay bar, killing 50+ people. Except for an accident of geography, Ian and I could have hit the point of "Death Do Us Part."
In 1991, I worked on the 96th floor of Two World Trade Center, one of the floors that was hit directly by the planes in 9/11 ten years later. That's only a tenuous link -- I don't feel like I dodged a bullet there, because I was a long time gone -- but it did reinforce that every once in a while you have a direct connection to "large" issues.
We live in Texas. And unlike many people who have made sweeping statements about leaving the country if a Republican takes the White House, we've looked pretty closely at moving to a different state if the executive branch suddenly stops eyeballing what the states are doing with their individual citizens.
But then, and geographically in this case, there's that "until death do us part" issue. I'm proud to be a native Texan, even if the rest of the state seems to have absolutely gone off the deep end recently. I don't like the political or the social atmosphere here, but I've also got a characteristically Texan attitude about it, which is that no one, and that's NO ONE, pushes me off my ground. Not other Texans, not anyone. I stand my ground.
ISIS hates gay people just as much as a big contingent of Americans do, and from BOTH of those vectors I see it as a direct attack on what America, and Texas, actually stand for. I don't have any sort of deep analysis of the connection between a massacre in Orlando, anti-LGBT politics in Texas, working in the World Trade Center, and so on, but I have the same reaction to all of them.
Dig in. Stand your ground. And fight. That's what protects a free society, nothing else. I don't mean fighting on foreign soil, I mean fighting right here, for the country's soul. A free society has an extremely difficult line to walk: protecting ourselves without becoming the enemy. Many of us see the balance differently, and that's fine, as long as we all see that there's a balance. If we ever lose sight of the fact that there is a balancing act, though, then we are lost.
There are going to be several take-aways in the aftermath of this massacre, I think. But whatever they are, there's an overriding message already. Freedom is a matter of "until death do us part." You have to hold onto it to keep it. And it's not just the freedoms you like for yourself -- it's the freedoms you don't like, for people you don't like. It's all connected in a fragile web that other people would love to tear apart.
Don't let go of your people, don't let go of your freedom, and understand that part of the battle is going to be fought on behalf of people you don't like one bit. That's how it works. All of us civilians in free societies are still, ultimately, soldiers. Our militaries try to keep that from happening, but civilians are still the final line of defense. And we have to stick together: Until death do us part. Rest in peace to these Americans who died because they lived in freedom. You were ours, and now you are gone.
Death has parted us.