About eight years ago, the United States Supreme Court changed my life.

By their majority ruling that there was a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, it meant I could finally avail of the legal rights and entitlements denied me for a lifetime. I could finally have a shot at the kind of opportunities that others took for granted.

It changed my life. It ensured my citizenship. It allowed me to vote here eventually. It gave my voice back to me and so much more.

There is human dignity in equal rights. There is a final reply to the angry voices that for so long tried to insult or silence me. 

I knew though that there would be those who would never accept that equality, however. I do not believe, as many progressives do, that we are on a path to what some presidents call “a more perfect union.”

Liberals see democracy as a journey toward a fairer world, but many conservatives see democracy as a smoking battlefield, where no victory or setback is permanent. These are two conflicting views of reality to complement our conflicting politics.

I knew for a long time that there would be a steep price to pay for the shock of electing a black president to two successful terms in the United States.

I knew that there would also be payback for the Supreme Court ruling that allowed LGBT people the dignity of equal citizenship. The only question was when.

I didn't have to wait long. First, Donald Trump was pressed into service as the voice of conservative white outrage over President Obama. In his big fat red tie and shoulder pads, he was a hair-dyed 1980s throwback, wholly composed of spite and fury like a mythical golem.

We saw how that worked out for America. An insurrection in the Capitol followed, the worst attack there since August 1814 when British troops used torches and gunpowder to burn the Capitol, the president's house, and other government buildings.

An sinister insurrectionist in full military garb brought ziplock handcuffs.

An sinister insurrectionist in full military garb brought ziplock handcuffs.

Trump's violent coup failed. His plan to steal by force the election that he had lost by public ballot fizzled and our democracy ultimately prevailed, but it was a very close-run thing. Too close, really. 

But what you have to understand is that took Trump took the Republican Party toward a dangerous new authoritarianism that has quickly become the party's baseline of operations. He radicalized it in a way that means it is no longer the democracy-abiding party that it once was. 

The message from the GOP now is not just to win but scorch the earth and smite your enemies. Does that sound like democracy to you? Or does that simply sound like revenge? 2016 is the line Trump crossed and there will be no going back to it. 

Party establishment figures like Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley think they can clinch the presidential nomination by restoring the kind of party discipline and focus the GOP used to have prior to 2016. But that party and that kind of establishment politics is as lost to us now as old Atlantis.

Primary voters, amped up by the fear porn nightly fed to them by outlets like Fox News, believe the country is under attack from within and they are the last line of defense before the progressive apocalypse.

So they are in no mood for party politics. They only want conquest. Trump understands this and is promising revenge to them. I am your instrument of revenge, he implies. Do you see where all this is going yet?

Meanwhile, Terry Schilling, the president of the influential conservative think tank American Principles Project, told The New York Times this week that his organization had been casting about for an issue that would galvanize his supporters and big donors. “We knew we needed to find an issue that the candidates were comfortable talking about. And we threw everything at the wall.”

What stuck, to their surprise, was the issue of transgender identity, particularly among young people. It very quickly outstripped same-sex marriage – which still enjoys majority support nationally – as a handy wedge issue for social conservatives at a pace that stunned even their most jaded supporters. 

Since they started targeting them, about 20 states all controlled by Republicans have enacted laws that ban medical treatments, consultations, participation in sports or even discussing gender in schools for trans students.

This cynical Trojan Horse approach finds the weakest link in the LGBT chain in order to attack it all (using children as the live bait even though no child is ever permitted to fully transition anywhere ever) with the ultimate aim of overturning national same-sex marriage, by re-stigmatizing the entire community over a fringe issue and turning public opinion against all of them wherever it can. 

So no battle ever ends and no victory is final. But we would all be wise to remember an observation once attributed to Confucius: “If you go in search of revenge, first you should dig two graves, because one will be for yourself.”