Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon.
Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.
To me these stories are just embarrassing. It is difficult to see what was illegal in Senator Craig's actions (at least from the arrest report), and I am very tired of the private, especially sexual, lives of politicians making so many headlines. Sure, I know that the Republican Party largely deserves these headlines due to their continual hounding of President Clinton, but the same reasons why I think that was wrong hold here as well. I have seen no good reason to think there is a connection between a politician's sex life and his public service and I wish (uselessly I know) that these stories would just stop--or at least relegated to the gossip page where they belong.
Perhaps the least important issue for me is the hypocrisy element (highlighted here by Hilzoy). Yes, Sen. Craig supported DOMA and has a clear record of voting against homosexual rights, but yet seems to be a closeted gay man. I'm not sure why his homosexuality (if true) would make his discriminatory actions towards homosexuals any more appalling than they already are. If he was caught soliciting sex from a woman his support of DOMA would be just as reprehensible. But yet that is often the most scandalous aspect to these spectacles.
I suppose the reasoning is something like this: if Senator Craig is truly homosexual and yet claims that homosexuality is wrong then either a) he should know better because of his own experience b) he is lying about his own views for political gain (i.e. he doesn't believe that homosexuality is wrong).
It seems to me that (a) is irrelevant. Yes, he should know better. However, he would hardly be the first morally conflicted homosexual if he was honest in his condemnation of homosexuality. More importantly, as a Senator, Larry Craig already has this responsibility. I would expect of all Senators that they would all, homosexual or not, have a broad enough range of experience to know better. In other words, any increased responsibility that Larry Craig might have to better understand understand the legal and moral rights of homosexuals due to his own alleged homosexuality is by far trumped by his responsibilities as a Senator to understand these legal and moral rights.
As for (b), it seems to me that most politicians, including almost all of the Democratic candidates for President are already doing this. To my knowledge, none of the major Democratic candidates are willing to support marriage rights for homosexuals (although they will support civil unions, state laws, etc.). I could be wrong here, but I find it difficult to believe that otherwise liberal and progressive politicians such as Edwards and Obama believe that homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to marry. Thus, their refusal to admit this publicly is also a matter of lying about their views for political gain. I am not trying to draw a moral equivalency between Edwards and Obama's "lying" to Craig's posited lying, as Edwards and Obama are not working to limit homosexual rights but to increase them--just pointing out that, again, it is not the lying or hypocrisy about their actual views that matters but what their actions as politicians.