Anyone with any contact with the news media has heard that Idaho's senior senator, Republican Larry Craig, has found himself in political, ethical and moral hot water after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct for his behavior in an airport bathroom known as a cruising spot for, for lack of a better term, gay sex. If true, his behavior is much like that of late Spokane Mayor Jim West, a hard-right Republican who was anti-gay anything and everything as a fairly powerful state senator representing the Spokane area. His behavior, cruising gay websites for sex and companionship, brought him down politically and outed him as a gay man, despite a number of initial denials. Who knows what will happen with the senior senator from Idaho. Maybe something similar.
One thing that is clear is that both men spent a lot of time denying they were/are gay. I'm almost surprised we didn't hear the line from Seinfeld--Not that there's anything wrong with that. These denials should be key in understanding why sexual orientation needs to be included in civil rights protections. If there was/is nothing "wrong" with being gay, lesbian, transgendered, queer, questioning or what have you, there would be no need to call a press conference to deny such an orientation. The vociferous denials indicate clearly that there remains serious stigma attached to being anything but heterosexual, at least in the broader, conservative political community, if not the broader community itself. Eastern Washington and most of Idaho fit that bill.
The senator, despite this situation, is generally someone we might consider a smart man who acts to his own advantage. He has denied being gay. I can accept that. However, in his statement delivered the other day in Boise, never did he say "I am heterosexual." If we parse his words, or if we read between the lines, do we take this to mean that he isn't heterosexual, because he should have affirmed what he is, right? Couild this be taken to mean he is bisexual, but won't admit to even that? I don't doubt that he loves his wife and family, but I'm not sure that has anything to do with sexual orientation. Many a closeted gay/bi man has married and likely loves his family. Almost everyone loves their spouse and children. It's almost a given (except maybe the spouse part for some--not for me though :-) ). Loving your family and spouse does not counteract evidence of gay/bi sexual orientation.
Although I'm a resident of Washington State, I do own property, with my wife, in Idaho. It really is a great state, the northern panhandle is probably one of the most beautiful natural areas in the continental U.S. Boise is a great city as well. The SE part of the state is close to Yellowstone, Jackson and other outdoor wonders. Except for it's often ultra-conservative politics, it's a great state in a lot of ways. Idaho is kinda my state, having received my graduate education there, and having lived there when just out of high school. And Craig is kinda my senator, like it or not. To his benefit, his conservatism led him to be among the few Republicans who challenged the so-called PATRIOT Act. I can appreciate that sort of political behavior. Still, I have yet to hear just why he was in the Minneapolis airport. I've gone through there on my way home to Spokane from Indianapolis one time, but barely had time to make my connection.
Craig, as did Spokane's late mayor, claimed he was the victim of a witch hunt, which is a bit hard to swallow since the Idaho Statesman killed the initial story about Craig cruising for gay sex because it could not be corroborated. Should Craig turn out to be gay or bisexual, he'll be among the worst sort of human and political hypocrites, joining infamous Jim West in the Closet of Shame, or the Closeted Hall of Shame, whatever we might want to call it, intent on blaming others for what they brought upon themselves. For me, it all comes back to homophobia and how ingrained it is in our culture, how afraid so many are of the queer among us. This situation epitomizes the need to protect people based on sexual orientation so those who don't have the power of a United States Senator needn't fear being outed against their will and in a way that harms themselves and their family.
Forgive any typing or spelling errors. I'm not using Firefox as I usually do!