Larry Craig [hilzoy]

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From Roll Call:

"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.

A spokesman for Craig described the incident as a “he said/he said misunderstanding,” and said the office would release a fuller statement later Monday afternoon.

After he was arrested, Craig, who is married, was taken to the Airport Police Operations Center to be interviewed about the lewd conduct incident, according to the police report. At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?” the report states."

TPM has posted the arrest report, along with a video of Craig endorsing Mitt Romney, in which he praises Romney's "very strong family values. That's something I grew up with and believe in." (The Romney campaign has apparently yanked the video.) Craig has released a statement saying his actions were misconstrued. Based on the description in Roll Call (citing the police report), I'm not sure exactly what Craig did that was illegal, as opposed to merely peculiar. However, he did plead guilty. Moreover, if it's all a misunderstanding, it's a misunderstanding that Craig seems to attract a lot. Here's a YouTube video from 1982 in which Craig denies being part of a House page sex scandal. Here, last October, is Michael Rogers of BlogActive alleging that he has met with several men who claim to have had sex with Craig. And here's some interesting commentary out of Idaho on the last round of allegations.

***

I have a certain sympathy for closeted gay men and lesbians. I think that being so deeply ashamed of a part of yourself that's so fundamental, and that you can do nothing to change, must be close to unbearable; and the knowledge that coming clean would involve not only admitting that you're gay, but also that you have lied for years to people you care about, and who trust you, would only make it that much worse. But my sympathy vanishes when it comes to people who support amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage, as Craig did. There are limits to what you get to do to protect your own secrets, and being willing to permanently destroy gay men and lesbians' chances to marry the people they love, and with whom they have found happiness, is way, way outside them.

(For the record, I don't have much sympathy for straight people who support this idiotic and mean-spirited amendment either.)

Craig seems to have made a habit of voting against laws that would secure the rights of gay men and lesbians. In addition to supporting the Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, he voted against a bill that would have banned job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, against expanding the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation, and was rated zero by the Human Rights Campaign in each of the last three Congresses (1, 2, 3; all pdf.) I truly can't imagine what it would be like -- how little self-respect a person would have to have -- to amass that sort of voting record while cruising for gay sex in airport restrooms.

And besides, if I had any sympathy for Larry Craig, the fact that he "handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?”" would have destroyed it. The laws are meant to apply to everyone, Senators included. No one gets to violate laws he himself supports and then use the fact that he has been elected to high office to get himself off the hook. Being elected Senator means being given a position of trust and responsibility that you should work every day to be worthy of, not a Get Out Of Jail Free card.

(Cross-posted at Obsidian Wings.)

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