Charles Rehn - Democrat for President 2004

A Conversation With America
Questions That Must Be Answered
Web Edition (c) 2002, 2003 Charles Rehn All Rights Reserved




Homosexuality & Gay Rights
A Discussion with Rick Santorum


[Note: I have to say, in all fairness, that my addressing this to Mr. Santorum is not at all an attempt to demean him. It is a legitimate attempt to share my experiences, and a challenge to have an honest conversation with him, and America. I think Rick Santorum is a fine person, and human like the rest of us.]

I never gave homosexuality a great deal of thought while I was growing up. I didn't understand it, but I figured it was their business and it didn't affect me, so I just didn't give it much thought.

When I was 17, I attended a school-sponsored party where I noticed a circle of people around a guy who was nearly in tears because they were teasing him because he was gay. I didn't have any idea if he was gay or not, all I knew is that I would not stand by and allow other people to persecute and demean and strip the dignity from another human being in my presence.

People were used to me being that kind of person, so when I did it, they accepted what I said to make them stop.  I was a popular kid in school, so when I hung out with folks, they generally tended to act a little more grown up. I made it okay for them to exercise judgement instead of feeling pressure to go along with the crowd and fit in.

By the way, he wasn't gay.  He was such a good tailor that all the girls wanted him to make their prom dresses for them, and he was hands down the best cook who ever made me a meal, and he had a high voice. The perfect target for adolescent peer persecution... the same kind of "out of control" group mentality that led to the hazings in Chicago.

It wasn't until around 1991 that I had to confront my real feelings about homosexuality. I had to deal with my feelings, and observe the contradictions between our judgements of the expression of love and human sexuality between straight and gay people.

Here's why.

It had been a number of years since I'd done any dating. I hadn't given up on love or anything like that. But, after being in radio, and playing music and being around the entertainment business, I found that people often were attracted to my "image", and didn't even know me as a person. So, I decided to take a more low-key approach to relationships.

One day, I met this woman. We hit it off from the very beginning.  It was one of those quiet relationships, where we ended up having lunch together everyday, and I'd write some music every once in a while and play it for her.  There was no pressure.  It did not become sexual in any way.  It was two people getting to know each other, seemingly without secrets. 

After 6-8 weeks went by, I even asked her if she was in any relationships or situations that might prevent her from being in a relationship with me.  She said no, and our quiet friendship continued for weeks. Everyone at work figured that we were a legitimate item.

I went to her house to lounge around her pool one day... must have talked for 10 hours. Her room mate, a very nice woman, fixed us a great dinner, too.

A few weeks later - I can't even remember why it was forced to the surface, and I assume I can't remember because of the shock I felt - but she told me that she was a lesbian, and her nice roommate was actually her partner.

I felt disappointed, I was sad, I felt a little betrayed, but mostly I felt a loss of a relationship that I hoped would turn into something greater. I knew she wondered "what might have happened" too. But it was clear, we were very good friends and that would continue.

Still, I was a bit confused.

There was this one friend at work who I consider one of my best friends who was very into philosophy, a very intelligent guy who I respected and enjoyed discussing things with.

So for about three weeks I talked to him frequently about my thoughts about homosexuality and why I thought someone would be homosexual and I must have talked about and rationalized and tried to understand everything there was to consider about homosexuality.

And one night, he said to me "Chuck, there's something I have to tell you".

I said, "Okay".

He said, "Chuck, I'm gay".

There must have been at least 2 minutes of silence.  He was very patient with me.   He knew I was making a sincere effort to understand.

I remember telling him that I had to go do some more thinking, and he just sort of chuckled, and said he'd see me at work the next day.

Over the next couple of weeks I even went to group meetings online on CompuServe to observe chat groups of people who got together to discuss their feelings and difficulties in reconciling their sexuality with the expectations and opinions of their parents and family.  The most revealing thing was that when you removed the stigma and stereotypes of what it means to be homosexual, these people, and their families, mostly poured their hearts out because they felt so much love toward each other, and felt angry that there was a barrier that prevented them from showing their love as they always had before.

Now, I have to admit, I believe there are some people who are "talked into it".  There are some people who are not really homosexual, but just fell in love with a person who happened to be of the same sex. Is that wrong?

But, for the most part, when I actually asked them why they were homosexual, what their explanation was, the consistent answer I heard was "I don't know why. I just am." They certainly embellished their explanations with experiences and observations, but that was the bottom line.

I don't actually know why I'm heterosexual. I have beliefs about it.  I've been trained by my society to believe it's normal. I've had religious training that told me it was right.

Frankly, I rejected one concept in general, that part of being right, everything is necessarily right or wrong - simply because what I observe to be a more universal law of my faith is that I have not been granted the authority to pass moral judgement on other people. 

It is my responsibility, instead, to hold myself true to the principles at the foundation of my own moral discipline or faith.

As you discovered when you voiced your views, Rick, you expressed a moral judgement, which caused others to judge you. "Judge not lest ye be judged". That's the world of equal but opposite reactions at play. It's a tool of divisiveness that tears away, bit by bit, at the unity of this country.

Update 11/19/2008

As a leader, you gave other people an example that says it's alright for them to judge other people for their differences, but worse, to strip those people who are the object of the criticism of their right to exist - their God given inalienable rights to the pursuit of happiness. God did not ask your opinion when He brought them into this world, nor did He ask anyone else's opinions when He brought you into this world.

If none of that makes sense to you, Rick, then I request that you read the Ten Commandments.. in the Bible... and ponder the meaning of the Golden Rule and how it applies to you... and your other firiends like Newt Gingrich

I have a birth defect that occurs in less than one per cent of the global population that makes me kind of skinny. People tell me I should work out on weights, and they make fun of me sometimes, just for being skinny, as if it made me an inferior person, like I did something wrong that makes me not "average or normal". It's just the way God made me. It's the body I was given.  Why should I be ashamed or embarrassed about that?

There's no difference.

We all have our own beliefs and standards and expectations. In America, freedom of speech and religion are sacred because they allow everyone to be and express who they are and what they believe in.  We have the right to believe anything we want, live our lives the way we want to so long as we do not infringe upon the rights of others to do the same. It provides the liberty and equality that God, not the laws of man, granted.

As a representative in government, it is important that we represent the interests of all of the people we represent, whether we agree with them or not. As representatives, we must not allow our own opinions to overrule the intent of the constitution. And we must remember that the words we speak in public can shape not only opinions, but can be the basis for action by others against fellow citizens. 

To incite activities that would suppress or oppress the rights of other people would be in conflict with the oath of office, possibly civil rights.

As a society, we need to recognize that when our preferences are honored as greater than our inalienable rights, that it causes hostility and injustice.

About 2 weeks after finally feeling settled about my experiences with my lesbian friends, who I still love very much,  I got an email that contained a joke about gay people. I instinctively began to reply with another joke, when I realized that the person in the cubical next to me was my good friend who is gay. And I realized that if it was so "built-in" to my psyche that gays seemed to be appropriate objects of jokes and ridicule, that a lot of other people really hadn't considered other people's rights and feelings too.

So, I composed a sensitive, thought provoking email that most people understood and abided by. There were certainly no more jokes about gays. And, a couple of managers thanked me for speaking up.

But the most poignant response came from a lesbian who confronted me and wanted to know who I was to send out such an email. I told her I just wanted to promote a little more sensitivity and understanding.

She said "Why didn't you just let that guy who sent the joke around get in trouble?" 

I told her I thought it was more beneficial to promote understanding and co-existence over vindictive retribution. I understood her position as well, though I thought it was sad that something must have happened to make her feel so bitter.

In the end, I always look to see what I can learn from everything I observe.

In this case, I finally came to realize that what I admired about gay and lesbian people the most is that in order to fulfill and express themselves in every other way, they have had to come to terms with their preferences and the stigmas attached to them, and dig down deep to realize that any differences they have do not have anything to do with their value as people.

It's an indication they've made a choice about how they'll live their lives, accepting themselves as they are, trying to be the best people they can be, as God made them and calls them to do what they do in life. They are, as we all must be, true to themselves.

I can respect that quality in anyone. And, Rick, that's what I respect about you, too.

There is one other thing I want to say about it.  The women I met, the guys I know who are not heterosexual, are all very productive, successful compassionate people. They work in professional capacities with a great deal of diligence and accomplishment, live their lives with a great deal of integrity and are great friends.

They volunteer to non-profit organizations to help other people... sounds like good people to have as neighbors to me.


Canadian Leaders Agree to Propose Gay Marriage Law "According to the interpretation of the courts these unions should be legal in Canada. We will ensure that our legislation includes and legally recognizes the union of same-sex couples."

Supreme Court strikes down Texas sodomy law "The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court's majority. "The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime."

Frist supports constitutional amendment for gay marriage ban Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, said the Supreme Court's decision last week on gay sex threatens to make the American home a place where criminality is condoned.  "Generally, I think matters such as sodomy should be addressed by the state legislatures," Frist said. "That's where those decisions -- with the local norms, the local mores -- are being able to have their input in reflected.

[Note to Bill: Not in regard to human and civil rights. That's a federal matter. This is not about crime or privacy, it's about human rights. And, now you know where I draw the line on states' rights.]

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