Monday, September 03, 2007

Larry Craig Affair Exposes Hypocrisy of Anti-Gay Politicos Who Hide In the Closet


GOP Senator Is the Latest Right-Wing Moralist to be Exposed as a Hypocrite -- Meanwhile, the Party Reveals Itself to Have a Double-Standard In Dealing With its Members' Sexual Peccadilloes




The Minneaspolis Police Department released these booking photos of Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) after the conservative Republican pleaded guilty to to a misdemeanour charge of disorderly conduct. Craig was arrested by an undercover police officer who said that the senator propositioned him for sex in a men's washroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Craig, a strident opponent of laws extending civil rights protections to gays, found himself roundly denounced across the political spectrum as a hypocrite (Photos: Minneapolis Police Department via Reuters)

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(Updated 2:00 a.m. EDT Wednesday, September 5, 2007)

By Skeeter Sanders


"I am not gay! I never have been gay!" Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) insisted over and over again to reporters at an extraordinary press conference last Tuesday, following the bombshell revelation that he was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in June by an undercover police officer who said Craig made a sexual advance toward him in an airport men's room.

Since Craig's arrest and subsequent guilty plea to a related charge of "disorderly conduct" was made public, the arch-conservative senator -- who made a name for himself as one of the most staunchly anti-gay members of the upper chamber -- has seen his entire world cave in on him.

His fellow Republicans -- still reeling from the pedophilia scandal last year of disgraced former Representative Mark Foley of Florida -- almost immediately treated him like a leper, forcing him out of his Senate GOP leadership posts and demanding that he resign his Senate seat altogether.

Craig did exactly that on Saturday, in a second news conference in Boise, the Idaho state capital. "I apologize for what I have caused," the 62-year-old Craig told reporters, as his wife Suzanne and two of their three children stood at his side. "I am deeply sorry."

By Tuesday night, however, Craig was reportedly reconsidering his decision to step down and may instead fight to keep his Senate seat. "It's not such a foregone conclusion anymore, that the only thing he could do was resign," Sidney Smith, a spokesman for the senator, told The Associated Press in Boise.

"We're still preparing as if Senator Craig will resign . . . but the outcome of the legal case in Minnesota and the ethics investigation will have an impact on whether we're able to stay in the fight — and stay in the Senate," Smith said.

End of the Line for a Staunch Senate Conservative

Craig's resignation, which will take effect on September 30, ends a career in Congress spanning nearly 25 years, during which he built a record and reputation as a fierce social conservative, stridently opposing laws extending civil rights protections to gays and favoring a constitutional amendment barring gay couples from marrying.

Craig was also an outspoken opponent of abortion and gun control. When the Republicans controlled the Senate, Craig chaired the Veterans Affairs Committee. After the Democrats won control of the chamber in last November's election, he became the ranking Republican member of the Appropriations Committee, where he was adept at securing federal money for Idaho projects.

Yet for all of his staunch social conservatism, Craig broke ranks with his fellow GOP conservatives to back President Bush on the volatile issue of immigration reform, where he pushed for changes that other conservatives ridiculed as "amnesty" to illegal immigrants. Much of the impetus behind Craig's push to ease bureaucratic hurdles to immigrant farm workers stemmed from his background as a rancher and the state's large rural, farming community.

Scandal Exposes Craig's Outrageous Hypocrisy on Matters Pertaining to Gays...

That the Idaho Republican was arrested for "disorderly conduct" in connection with a police sting operation aimed at busting men who solicit sex with other men in a public restroom -- and the fact that he convicted himself by pleading guilty to the charge -- exposes for all Americans to see the outrageous hypocrisy that Craig has apparently practiced on matters pertaining to sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular.

While this blogger freely admits to feeling a great deal of schadenfreude about the Craig affair -- it's hard to resist laughing at the right-wing senator's misfortune, which is what the German word means -- I'm nonetheless going to take Craig at his word when he says that he's not gay.

The truth is, he really isn't gay -- the long-married, longtime darling of the Religious Right is more likely to actually be bisexual. It never ceases to amaze me that both the mainstream society and the gay community can't seem to differentiate between gay men and bisexual men, or to even acknowledge that bisexuals exist.

If Senator Craig -- who's been married since 1983 -- really was gay, he and his wife, Suzanne, would have either divorced years ago or never have married in the first place (The couple's three children are from Suzanne's previous marriage). Gay men do not have sex with women -- period. That's the one thing that differentiates gay men from bisexual (not to mention heterosexual) men.

...And GOP's Double-Standard When Dealing With Senator Vitter's Peccadilloes

Meanwhile, the GOP is enduring withering criticism by Democrats of a double-standard in its handling of the Craig affair, compared to that of another Republican, Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, who was exposed as having an involvement with an escort service that authorities say is a prostitution ring.

Accusations flew on the Sunday TV talk shows, with a senior Democrat saying that a double standard by Republican leaders exists by their silence on the Vitter scandal and a senior Republican insisting that there's "a big difference between being accused of something [Vitter] and actually admitting guilt [Craig]."

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Senator John Ensign (R-Nevada), the Senate Republican campaign chairman, said Craig "admitted guilt. . . David Vitter never did that." But on "Fox News Sunday," Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sharply disagreed.

"There's a double standard," said Leahy. "I don't think they'll [the GOP leadership] ask him [Vitter] to resign because, of course, he'd be replaced by a Democrat. It's easier to ask Larry Craig to resign because he'd be replaced by a Republican."

Idaho's governor,
C.L. "Butch" Otter, is a Republican who will likely appoint a Republican successor to Craig. Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, is a Democrat who would likely appoint a Democrat to replace Vitter if he decides to step down.

Vitter has not been charged with a crime, although he acknowledged his Washington telephone number was among those called several years ago by an escort service. Prosecutors say the escort service was a prostitution ring and have accused the woman who headed it of racketeering.

D.C.-Based Blogger's Expose Prompted Follow-Up Probe By Idaho Newspaper

As it turns out, this isn't the first time that Senator Craig has had to confront revelations of his allegedly having same-gender sexual liaisons. According to the Idaho Statesman of Boise, in a lengthy article published last week, Craig's June 11 encounter with the undercover officer in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was similar to another incident in Washington.

A D.C. - area man -- a 40-year-old professional who has close ties to Republican officials -- told the newspaper that in 2004, he engaged in oral sex with the senator in a men's room at Washington's Union Station railroad terminal.

The Statesman also spoke with a man who said Craig made a sexual advance toward him at the University of Idaho in 1967 and with a third man who said Craig "cruised" him for sex in 1994 at a sporting-goods store in Boise. The newspaper reported that it also investigated dozens of other allegations of the senator engaging in same-gender sexual liaisons, but found them to be either false, inconclusive or unverifiable.

The Statesman began its investigation after Mike Rogers, a Washington-based blogger and gay activist, posted an article last October on his Web site, BlogActive.com, that accused Craig of having sexual encounters with other men, citing several anonymous sources.

Over the course of five months, the newspaper examined rumors alleging that Craig is bisexual dating back to his years as a college student in the late 1960s -- including his pre-emptive denial in 1982 while a member of the House of Representatives as a scandal erupted over several House members having sex with underage congressional pages.

That scandal saw the liberal -- and single -- Representative Gerry Studds (D-Massachusetts) publicly come out of the closet as a gay man and easily won re-election, while the conservative -- and married -- Representative Daniel Crane (R-Illinois) tearfully confessed to violating his marriage vows and lost his congressional seat.

Craig Affair Latest in Series of Sex Scandals to Rock 'Pro-Family Values' GOP

The Craig affair is the latest in a series of sex scandals to hit the GOP -- which has spent more than 25 years cultivating an image for itself as the party that "defends traditional family values" to gain support from conservative voters, particularly Christian evangelicals.

Last fall, this blogger noted that the Republican Party was enduring "the political equivalent of being slashed to death by Freddie Kruger in 'A Nightmare on Elm Street.'" With just weeks to go before last November's midterm congressional elections, Republicans were reeling from a repeat of the 1982 scandal, which saw then-Representative Mark Foley exposed as a sexual predator, having sent sexually explicit e-mails and instant messages to under-aged congressional pages.

Foley, who abruptly resigned last October, later said through his attorney that he "is a gay man." Yet almost a year later, there is still no evidence that the Florida Republican ever had sexual relationships with adult gay or bisexual men, prompting this blogger to strongly suggest then -- and still suggest now -- that Foley has a pedophile, rather than homosexual, orientation [Blog Archive: October 2, 3 and 9, 2006].

Another conservative Republican congressman was exposed as having allegedly assaulted a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair. Like Foley, the House GOP leadership knew about Representative Don Sherwood's indiscretions, but did not take any disciplinary action against the Pennsylvanian, apparently to preserve their then-majority control of the lower chamber [Blog Archive: October 16, 2006]. Sherwood ultimately lost his bid for re-election to a Democrat.

If that wasn't enough, four more Republicans -- three of them in the House and the fourth a candidate for governor of Nevada -- found their peccadilloes exposed. In the case of New Mexico Representative Heather Wilson, it was a probe of her husband's alleged child sexual abuse, which she was suspected of attempting to cover up [Blog Archive: October 23, 2006]. Wilson was re-elected -- but just barely.

And most recently, Florida state Representative Bob Allen was arrested in July for allegedly soliciting sex with an undercover police officer in a men's restroom at Veterans Memorial Park in Titusville. According to local news reports, Allen offered to pay $20 to perform oral sex on the undercover cop, whose identity was withheld, but was described in court papers as a "stocky" African American.

Allen was released from the Brevard County jail after posting a $500 bond. In a taped statement and other court documents, Allen claimed that he felt intimidated by "a pretty stocky black guy" and offered money and oral sex as a way to avoid an attack by the undercover officer and the other "black guys" in the park.

Conservative Columnist: Openly Gay Men 'Have More Guts' Than Craig Does

By far the harshest, most slashing denunciation of Craig so far has come from syndicated conservative columnist Susan Estrich, who's famous for excoriating former President Bill Clinton for lying about his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

"After consistently voting against efforts to protect gay and lesbian Americans from hate crimes and to preserve their civil rights, you go into the men's room at the airport and try to pick up the guy in the next stall?" Estrich wrote last week.

In a particularly acid barb at the senator, Estrich noted that Senator Craig "voted twice against protecting from hate crimes those with more guts than he has, when he voted against the addition of the words 'sexual orientation' to the federal hate crimes law."

She also noted that Craig supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and voted for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which gave states the right to refuse to recognize such marriages.

"You want to be in the closet, be in the closet," Estrich wrote of Craig. "But don't be a hypocrite."

It Doesn't Pay to Lie About Your Sexuality -- Whether You're Gay, Straight or Bi

The Craig affair should serve as a cautionary tale of why it's not healthy for bisexual men -- especially those who are married -- to remain in the closet about it.

And it's especially not healthy for gay and bisexual men in positions of power and influence to to not only remain in the closet, but to also maintain a public veneer of being homophobic. Ultimately, their hypocrisy will be exposed -- and they'll receive all the scorn and ridicule that they richly deserve.

This blogger should know: I'm a married man and I'm openly bisexual. My wife has known from Day One of our pre-marital relationship that I'm bi, and she doesn't have a problem with it (Indeed, Mrs. Sanders has bisexual leanings of her own -- although, to date, she hasn't yet had an opportunity to explore them).

In this day and age, nearly 40 years after the beginning of the modern gay liberation movement, it really doesn't pay to stay in the closet. It's deceptive and dishonest -- and nobody likes a liar. People will hate you far more for lying about your sexual orientation than for being honest about it.

# # #

Volume II, Number 44
Copyright 2007, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.













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