Steve Ralls

'Don't Tell' Larry Craig, But He'd Have a Hard Time Serving Now

Filed By Steve Ralls | August 28, 2007 1:06 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, larry craig, military, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, steve ralls

Shortly after pleading guilty to lewd conduct in an airport restroom, Senator Larry Craig sat down to pen a letter to a constituent about his ardent support for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the federal law that prevents LGBT Americans from serving openly in our armed forces. As reported today at both Frontlines and PageOneQ, Craig told his constituent that "I don't believe the military should be a place for social experimentation," and went on to say that "It is unacceptable to risk the lives of American soldiers and sailors merely to accommodate the sexual lifestyle of certain individuals."

Now, of course, Senator Craig expects the United States Senate to accommodate the "sexual lifestyle" of one specific individual, but if he were still in the United States military (he is a veteran and currently serves as ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs), Senator Craig's actions would have him in hot water, indeed.

Indeed, the hypocrisy of the Senator's statement about LGBT service members is astounding.

Every day, more than 65,000 lesbian and gay Americans show up for duty in the armed forces. They serve honorably, abide by the armed forces' code of conduct and make a tremendous sacrifice (even above and beyond their heterosexual colleagues) to defend their nation. And if they participated in the 'fancy footwork' Senator Craig demonstrated beneath that bathroom stall, they'd face criminal charges and likely be drummed out of the service.

Larry Craig, on the other hand, is still (as of this posting) serving as a United States Senator.

('Social experimentation,' you see, is apparently best left to the halls of Congress and the stalls of Minnesota. But Senator Craig will simply not tolerate patriotic gay Americans serving in our armed forces.)

The Senator was, himself, apparently dismissed after serving 20 months of a 6 year enlistment because he had 'flat feet' (perfect, it seems, for signaling to undercover cops in public restrooms), though there is no physician's record on file at the Pentagon. (This morning's Idaho Statesman notes there have long been rumors that Craig was dismissed for being gay.)

And though I don't know about his feet, the Senator's defense of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has certainly fallen flat. And to add insult to injury, his letter (reprinted below) was to an active duty Coast Guardsman, who wrote to Craig asking that he support repeal of the ban on open service. That Coast Guardsman, gay or straight, stands up, every day, and defends our country. Senator Craig, on the contrary, seems to do nothing more than sit there and (crytpically) shuffle his feet.

The Senator owes the Guardsman an apology. After all, Craig wouldn't technically be fit to serve our nation's military anymore, but the Coast Guardsman continues to serve us all quite honorably.

And I know full well which one of the two I'd rather have standing up for me.

Full text of Senator Craig's letter:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, H.R.1246 I appreciate your letter and I apologize for the delay in my response.

H.R.1246 is currently in the subcommittee on Military Personnel of the Committee on Armed Services. I am currently unaware of any similar legislation in the Senate regarding this issue.

I am glad you shared your suggestions with me. As you know, the Department of Defense's policy on this issue is commonly referred to as a 'Don't ask, Don't tell' policy and would not allow for singling out homosexuals. In addition, I don't believe the military should be a place for social experimentation. The sole mission of the armed forces is to defend the United States.

Patriotism and the willingness to sacrifice on behalf of our country are character traits I wholeheartedly encourage and I believe every American should have the opportunity to engage in the service of our country in some capacity. However, the issue is not fairness, but military effectiveness. The armed forces exist to wage war. It is unacceptable to risk the lives of American soldiers and sailors merely to accommodate the sexual lifestyles of certain individuals.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

LARRY E. CRAIG
United States Senator

LEC\bss


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Perhaps we should start petitioning to have Craig removed from the Committee under "Don't Ask Don't Tell." What's good for the goose is good for the gander... Eh, I don't think he'll stay in office long enough to worry about his committee seat though...

Michael Bedwell | August 28, 2007 5:55 PM

Ever on the lookout for any excuse to discuss gay history, permit me to take this one involving sexual entrapment and the military.

No one handed me a pamphlet about Newport, Rhode Island’s great gay scandal when I toured The Breakers, the incredible 70-room “summer cottage” overlooking the Atlantic and built by Anderson Cooper's great grandfather at a cost in today's dollars of $150 million. [Apparently, AC comes by his disingenuousness naturally. ("I don't discuss my private life—but would you like to hear about my brother's suicide?") The French phrase carved into the mantle above the huge library fireplace great grand mum had ripped out of a 400-year old Burgundy chateau translates, "I laugh at great wealth, and never miss it; nothing but wisdom matters in the end.”]

As one marvel surpassed another—a room just for arranging flowers, the walk-in safe for the Vanderbilt’s huge silver service, the choice of heated rainwater or ocean saltwater in which to bathe in a one-ton marble tub, mountains more of marble in every direction, acres of Kurdish rugs, carved and coffered gilded ceilings that rival Versailles, and the alabaster columns and gigantic twelve-foot tall Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the two-story, 2400 sq. ft. dining room—I then had no idea that while the Vanderbilts lavishly entertained during the summer of 1919 less than three miles away, in a plot approved by no less than a future President of the United States, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt, certain other “Ladies of Newport” were entertaining attractive sailors in their late teens and early 20s recruited to seduce and entrap them.

Unlike Craig’s cop, these young bucks were empowered to do more than just tap dance. They were encouraged to let themselves be fellated or top the tricks they met in various locations about town that had become well-known cruising sites. Not for nothing were the Village Peep’s biggest hits called, “YMCA” and “In the Navy” decades later. But those wink-wink, nudge-nudge lyrics contained none of the explicit, blow-by-blow descriptions that over forty patriotic songbirds put into writing for investigators. Several arrests followed of both other sailors and civilians. Only the arrest of a local well-respected Episcopal priest publicly defended by his peers brought the dragnet [pun intended] to a halt but not the scandal of the tactics of the campaign itself which resulted in an official US Senate investigation and shocked, salacious newspaper headlines.

For greater, juicier details, see an excerpt of John Loughery’s marvelous “The Other Side of Silence” at”

http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/l/loughery-silence.html

For his full collection of fascinating, little-known stories of American gay men’s lives throughout the 20th century, buy the book at:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9780805061246&itm=8