Easing the sting

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” As do some high-profile Republicans caught up in recent gay sex scandals.

US senator Larry Craig is the latest to fall. After making a career out of opposing gay rights he has been busted in a gay sex solicitation scandal. He was arrested in June in a sting operation in a Minneapolis airport men’s room for soliciting sex from a male undercover officer. He pled guilty.

But, when the guilty plea hit the news he said it was all a misunderstanding.

What did Craig do? According to media reports of the police report he kept watching the undercover police officer through a crack in the bathroom stall. Craig then entered the stall next-door to the cop’s and placed his luggage against the opening under the stall door.

“At 1216 hours Craig tapped his right foot,” reported Sgt Dave Karsnia. “I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct…. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area.”

The report said that Craig swiped his hand beneath the stall divider several times and that then Karsnia showed his police identification under the stall.

Was he cruising? Sounds like it to me.

Craig is not alone in the bizarre homophobic-ridden, self-hating Republican closet. There’s congressman Mark Foley, who was discovered to have been sending sexual emails to male teens in the Congressional page program for years. He was also the chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, and one of the leading critics of child porn.

There’s Rev Ted Haggard, then head of the National Association of Evangelicals, who last November was discovered to have paid a male prostitute for sex. In his day job as head evangelical dude, he taught that homosexuality was an abomination and actively lobbied against any and all gay rights.

There’s Bob Allen, member of the Florida House of Representatives, who earlier this summer was arrested for offering an undercover police officer $20 to perform oral sex. In a charming turn Allen said that he only offered to give the cop the blowjob because he was a “pretty stocky black guy” and he was intimidated. (Apparently it’s better to be a raving racist than gay). Allen was one of the legislators who supported Florida’s ban on gays adopting children.

Then there’s Glenn Murphy Jr, national chairman of the Young Republicans, who was accused this summer of sexually assaulting another Young Republican. The two men had got drunk, and spent the night together. According to the police report, when the young man woke up in the middle of the night he found Glenn “holding my dick with one hand and sucking my dick with his mouth.” Glenn’s day job? Political consultant to the Republicans where he often advised using gay marriage as a divisive wedge issue.


What should we make of all this? We probably can’t help but delight — at least a little — in the hypocrisy and cheer their downfall.

But, here’s the rub. The crime of which they stand accused is that they had gay sex and some of them got busted by undercover cops in bathroom sex sweeps. What are the cops doing spending their precious time busting consensual sex? And what’s wrong with using the services of a male prostitute? Or offering $20 for a blowjob? (Okay, so maybe he was cheap, but it shouldn’t be a crime.)

With same-sex marriage so front-and-centre and gay sex in the back seat, not many gay rights advocates — especially in the US — want to come out swinging about the right to cruise and have consensual paid sex, to say nothing about sexual liasons with teenagers. Maybe gay folks who are interested in shifting this agenda, even just a little, should think about coming to their defence.

Sure, I hate these guys as much as anyone else. But, maybe there is a subversive opportunity here that we haven’t really begun to exploit. Love the sin, hate the sinner.

Brenda Cossman

Brenda Cossman is a professor of law at the University of Toronto, the author of Sexual Citizens: The Legal and Cultural Regulation of Sex and Belonging (Stanford University Press) and a former board member of Pink Triangle Press, Xtra’s publisher.

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