Charlie and me

When the topic of gay marriage comes up, this writer thinks of his boyhood friend

Bob Schmidt is a longtime journalist and frequent contributor to SN&R

Greta Peterson and I were in classes together for years, but I was about 13 when I first noticed how pretty she was. I remember being embarrassed because us guys weren’t supposed to consider girls as anything but bratty nuisances, so I only told one person. I told Charlie, my best friend. He said he thought Tommy was cute.

I also told him I was curious about what was under Greta’s blouse, which suddenly looked different than it had the year before. He wasn’t at all curious about what was under girls’ blouses, but he was curious about what was inside Tommy’s pants. Mine too, he said.

I had heard adults use the word “queer,” and because they said it scornfully, I had the idea that queer wasn’t a good thing to be. I figured out that that was what Charlie was, so I stopped being his best friend.

Now, nearly 65 years later, I’m ashamed that I did that.

With all the current fuss about gay marriage, I think often of Charlie. I don’t think he had any more choice in his sexual preference than he had about being left-handed or right-handed, about having blue eyes or brown eyes, or about being taller than he was. He was what he was.

I can’t imagine that gay people today have any choice about their sexual preference. They are what they are. Prohibiting gay people from marrying makes as much sense as prohibiting two left-handed people from marrying, or two short people.

I’ve seen a statistic that 10 percent of the people on Earth are attracted to people of the same sex. It seems particularly curious to me that religious people seem to the most vigorous critics of homosexuality. If, as they claim, God created people in his image, is there a different god who creates homosexuals?

Some people cite Leviticus that man “shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination.” to justify their opposition to homosexuality.

What happened to the fundamentalist observance of the ordinances in Leviticus that when adultery has occurred “the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death”? And to commands elsewhere in the Old Testament approving polygamy and the taking of concubines, requiring that a woman found not to be a virgin when she becomes a bride “be brought to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die.”

And I guess it’s OK for women to lie with women, since there is no prohibition against that in the Bible.

Marriage, the legal formalizing of a relationship between two people, is an invention. Love is not an invention. Two people desiring to commit to each other is not an invention.

There’s important stuff out there that we should be expending energy and money on. There’s poverty and hunger and health care and education and leaky levees.

The decision of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi to be married is not, except to them.