Found this at Jenny’s site, Heck’s Kitchen, and had to post it here too. While I still want to see him get kicked out for his hypocrisy, I agree that the arrest itself is an issue that needs to be addressed. I still think that it’s inappropriate to have sex in a public restroom – and I still believe that were it not for hypocrites like Mr. Craig, not as many gays would feel like anonymous bathroom sex is their only option.
Click the headline to read the full op-ed.
By FRANK RICH
Published: September 23, 2007
“I DID nothing wrong,” said Larry Craig at the start of his long national nightmare as America’s favorite running, or perhaps sitting, gag. That’s the truth. Justice lovers of all sexual persuasions must rally to save the Idaho senator before he is forced to prematurely evacuate his seat.
Time’s running out. The final reckoning may arrive this week. On Wednesday, a Minnesota court will hear Mr. Craig’s argument to throw out the guilty plea he submitted by mail after being caught in a June sex sting in the Minneapolis airport. If he succeeds, there’s a chance he might rescind his decision to resign from the Senate on Sept. 30. Either way, he should hold tight.Not only did the senator do nothing wrong, but in scandal he has proved the national treasure that he never was in his salad days as a pork-seeking party hack. In the past month he has served as an invaluable human Geiger counter for hypocrisy on the left and right alike. He has been an unexpected boon not just to the nation’s double-entendre comedy industry but to the imploding Republican Party. Gays, not all of them closeted, may be among the last minority groups with some representation in the increasingly monochromatic G.O.P. If it is to muster even a rainbow-lite coalition for 2008, it could use Larry Craig in the trenches.
On the legal front, Mr. Craig is not without his semi-spirited defenders, an eclectic group including Arlen Specter, the A.C.L.U., The Washington Post’s editorial page and scattered Democrats. While there’s widespread agreement that Mr. Craig was an idiot not to consult a lawyer before entering a guilty plea (for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor carrying a $575 fine), idiocy is no more a federal offense than hypocrisy, especially in Washington.
What Mr. Craig did in that men’s room isn’t an offense either. He didn’t have sex in a public place. He didn’t expose himself. His toe tapping, hand signals and “wide stance” were at most a form of flirtation. As George Will has rightly argued, if deviancy can be defined down to “signaling an interest in sex,” then deviancy is what “goes on in 10,000 bars every Saturday night in our country.” It’s free speech even if the toes and fingers do the talking.
The Minnesota sting operation may well be unconstitutional, as the A.C.L.U. says. Yet gay civil rights organizations, eager to see a family-values phony like Mr. Craig brought down, have been often muted or silent on this point. They stood idly by while Republicans gathered their lynching party, thereby short-circuiting public debate about the legitimacy of the brand of police entrapment that took place in Minnesota. Surely that airport could have hired a uniformed guard to police a public restroom rather than train a cop to enact a punitive “Cage aux Folles” pantomime.
A rare gay activist to stand up forthrightly for Mr. Craig is Franklin Kameny, whom the Smithsonian Institution recently honored with an exhibition documenting his lonely Washington protests for gay civil rights in the pre-Stonewall 1960s. When I spoke to him last week, the 82-year-old Mr. Kameny said that many Americans don’t seem to know how much the law has changed in recent years. Though he’s no admirer of Mr. Craig, whom he describes as “a self-deluding hypocritical homophobic bigot,” he publicly made the case for the senator’s innocence in a letter to the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily.com.
“Fair is fair,” Mr. Kameny wrote. Mr. Craig, guilty of no public sex act, “was the victim of a false arrest and a malfeasant prosecution.” Even had he invited the police officer to a hotel room, there still would have been no crime. The last American laws criminalizing gay sex between consenting adults were thrown out by the Supreme Court in 2003.
The hypocrisy in some quarters of the left about the Craig case is arguably outstripped by that on the right, heaven knows. It has been priceless to watch conservative politicians and bloggers defend their condemnation of Mr. Craig in contrast to the wide stance of tolerance they’ve taken toward David Vitter, the inimitable senator from the Big Easy.
On the same day Mr. Vitter was deploring MoveOn.org at the Petraeus-Crocker hearings two weeks ago, a (female) prostitute was holding a California press conference with Larry Flynt about her alleged participation in the unspecified sins to which the senator has publicly confessed. “He was a very clean man,” she helpfully explained to The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. “He came in, took a shower, did his business and would leave.”
Mr. Vitter, a shrill defender of marriage, still has the support of the G.O.P. hierarchy. Many believe that the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, and his posse tried to Imus Mr. Craig and send him packing in a single week because Idaho has a Republican governor (nicknamed “Butch,” no less) who would appoint a Republican successor. (The governor of Louisiana is a Democrat.) Others argue simply that Republican leaders are homophobes who practice a double standard for heterosexual offenders. But the reality is more complicated.”