The Question

Look, I'm as bemused by the arrest of Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) as anyone. I mean,, the schadenfreude runs very deep here; a man who has consistently voted against basic civil rights for gays and lesbians while being, himself, a closeted gay man is a man whom it's hard to muster much sympathy for.

But my friend and colleague Andy Birkey, writing for Minnesota Monitor, notes something that we really should pay attention to:

LGBT equality advocates have also pointed out the perceived hypocrisy of Craig's arrest. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said in a statement Monday, "There is sad irony that a United States senator from Idaho has been caught up in the same kind of thing that destroyed the lives of dozens of men in Boise in the 1950s, so tragically chronicled in `Boys of Boise.'"

NGLTF added, "And by the way, why are Minneapolis tax dollars being used to have plainclothes police officers lurking idly in airport restroom stalls?"

Why indeed? Craig probably was cruising for anonymous sex -- I mean, none of us are buying the "wide stance" defense. But so what if he was?

Now, we can all generally agree that a restroom is not an ideal place for people to be having sex. But the fact is that all Craig is really guilty of is signaling quietly that he was interested in engaging in sexual activity. Why in God's name is that a crime?

If anyone -- male or female or intersex, straight or gay or bisexual -- comes up to me tomorrow and offers to have anonymous sex with me, I won't be offended. Oh, I'll almost certainly turn them down regardless; I generally am not a fan of anonymous sex. And if you're male, your odds are significantly lower. Nothing personal, I'm just a fan of an XX genotype.

But I won't be offended by it. Nonplussed? Possibly. Flattered? Probably. Offended? Why? I don't have to have sex just because it's offered.

And therein lies the rub. Had Larry Craig propositioned me in a Humphrey Terminal bathroom, I would probably have missed the sign. Had I somehow caught it, I would have politely turned him down. Had somebody suggested what he just did was lewd, I would have laughed, because you shouldn't get arrested just for asking someone on a date, even if that date involves sex.

Look, if Craig had been arrested for public nudity or having sex in a bathroom stall, I could understand this better. If he'd been arrested for soliciting a prostitute, I'd be all in favor of him getting nailed. But as near as I can tell, he's guilty of subtly asking another adult to have consensual sex. I won't weep for Craig -- he's helped build the bizarre system that has now destroyed his political future. But I won't gloat over this, either, because the ultimate message of this arrest is that the desire to engage in sexual activities with someone of the same sex is in and of itself offensive, and lewd, and criminal. And that's a rather sobering and disturbing thought.

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