This article was originally published on lpo.org in June 2015
I’m just a typical small town empty-nester (except for the dogs). I’ve never known a time when I was told that it was wrong or inappropriate to date or love someone, but I’ve been lucky. You see, I was born straight. When I was younger, I had friends I knew were gay and I never thought it was a big deal. They were who they were, right? It never occurred to me to question how other people might perceive them. I certainly never thought about marriage for them, or for me for that matter, since we were all so young.
Our society wasn’t always accommodating. I saw the comments, slurs, and looks they all endured, and I watched as they never said a word and kept a positive attitude about life. As I grew older and married, had a kid and did all those “normal” things that were expected of me, I lost touch with a lot of these friends as our adult jobs scattered us far and wide.
Then social media happened. Like many others, I began reconnecting and catching up with the people I’d known long ago. One such friend, John, had worked with me and even read at our wedding. Shortly after we reconnected, he was diagnosed with ALS. If you know anything about ALS, you know the prognosis is always grim.
I will always regret that we didn’t reconnect sooner and that I never managed to see him again, except on video. I watched as he and his partner flew away from my little state of Ohio to marry on a tarmac in a state that didn’t discriminate against my friend because he was born loving who he loved. It was a beautiful ceremony performed by a pastor in their family. No one could watch that video without tearing up. It hit me hard, you see, because I never had to worry about getting engaged, married or being a parent, simply because I was born straight.
Inevitably, not too long after John and Jim tied the knot and after decades of being together, John lost his battle with ALS. The first time I met Jim was at a memorial for John, and it was immediately clear to me why John fell in love with this man.
Jim turned his loss, and the frustration he must have felt from years of being treated as a second-class citizen to positive ends. He has now devoted countless hours to appearances, in court and in the mass media, accepted speaking engagements, and given countless interviews, all to be able to honor John’s legacy. How many people would go to the lengths he has gone to? I’ll bet not many would.
What a beautiful testament to love and devotion!
I’ve never written more than a few letters to the editor or to my elected officials. These letters are always short, and even when I’m passionate about a subject, I stick to the point and never get personal. When I started to write this, it was going to be about how I’m thrilled to be a tiny cog in the Libertarian wheel that has been working towards equality for all since its inception (I’ve only been affiliated since 1992), but I kept coming back to Jim and John.
I’m so proud and moved by all that have fought for equality throughout all these years, but this hits home. I’m tearing up at the happy dance happening in heaven because never again will any of our brothers and sisters have to fight to have their love legally recognized.
To my friends that have now been given the green light: Carry on, and please coordinate your wedding dates in advance, so I can make each and every one of them.