Sexual crime, not orientation the issue

“I am not gay.”

These words made headlines as an Idaho senator’s defense in a disorderly conduct case that has many questioning his ethical standards.

Sen. Larry Craig was arrested at a Minneapolis airport after trying to solicit an undercover male police officer for lewd conduct in a bathroom, according to Craig attempted to watch Sgt. Dave Karsnia inside of a private stall and gave many signals to the officer to ask for sex acts, according to Karsnia.

The senator pled guilty to charges against him after his arrest but later said the plea was a mistake. Craig has temporarily resigned from many leadership committees due to pressure from fellow Republican lawmakers and criticism from the Democratic Party.

Craig claims he rushed into pleading guilty at the time of his arrest to avoid publicity of the incident.

The senator’s most popular defense, however, is his sexual orientation.

Craig told media outlets, “I am not gay and never have been.”

The media is giving this press conference proclamation more attention than his criminal act and is turning this question of guilt into a question of sexual orientation.

We can’t help but think Craig is somewhere smiling and thinking to himself, “Mission accomplished.”

It is no coincidence Craig’s quest for redemption includes distancing himself from the gay community. The former “Team Romney” member knows his Republican peers want to avoid his association with the gay community just as much, if not more, than his airport nightmare.

Many politicians try to find a person to serve as scapegoat for their actions, but this senator chose to divert attention to a group many people fear and misunderstand.

Why is the media feeding into Craig’s distraction? His sexual orientation should have been the least of any journalist’s concern at his much-anticipated speech about the airport incident.

After all, a senator soliciting sex, whether it is from a man or woman, is a problem.

Nearly any headline covering Craig’s speech featured this politician’s mistaken suggestion that a straight sexual orientation makes him innocent.

The most disturbing element to Craig’s case is the homophobia surrounding its coverage. Craig subtly suggested that being gay is synonymous with being perverted. It is as if people are supposed to hear his claim of a straight lifestyle and suddenly be at ease. There is no reason Craig’s sexuality should be considered as a proper defense for his actions.

Many in this country have an archaic view of homosexual Americans, especially people from whom Craig is trying to regain support.

It is silly to assume all gay individuals have no morals just because they choose an alternative lifestyle.

The picture this country has of gay life is the exact weapon Craig used to redirect attention away from his charges.

It’s time to take prejudice out of our legal systems, whether they reflect someone’s sexual orientation, race or religion. Assuming Craig is any less guilty of a sex crime because he said he isn’t gay would be like agreeing a person didn’t rob a bank because he isn’t black.

No group should be associated with any type of behavior. If Craig was innocent, he could find a more appropriate way to prove it.

We definitely don’t want to see the day when “not gay” translates to “not guilty.”

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.