There's a reason that a mild-mannered three-term senator would press his expensive pantlegs to urine-soaked linoleum for a few fleeting moments of anonymous sexual gratification. But after the curious incident of horndog in the bathroom, nobody felt like asking the right question.
The query most asked in the aftermath of the Larry Craig Revelations was "Why would he do that?" But the emphasis fell on the wrong word. The obvious question attached to this sordid affair should have been "Why would he do that?"
Despite his post-arrest denial and strong assertion of heterosexuality (hey, at least he didn't McGreevey it up and say "I am not a gay American"), police caught Craig as red-handed and open-palmed as any public sex offender before and after him. This particular elected official's lewd and lascivious behavior is not, like so many religious zealots would have you believe, a byproduct of the much-maligned myth of promiscuity in the homosexual libido. No, his political demise was predicated upon the orchestrated act of a closeted gay man trying to get some no-strings lovin'. Funny: through the simple act of coming out, the senator would not currently be outgoing.
I can't say for sure why Craig never felt comfortable enough with himself to halt this double life. Some people just never do, and while tragic, I certainly understand it. For him, it could've been the job. It could've been his family. But I'm guessing it's the same reason why most people wait too long: He didn't grow up with homosexuality as a normal, acceptable option. And boy did that do some serious psychological damage.
Craig is not alone. Even in today's times, even with the apparent prevalence of homosexuality in our society, it's still not exactly easy to be gay. You can't say the six-letter N-word in public (and rightfully so), but it's still wildly acceptable to drop the six-letter F-bomb. Hell, "gay" and "fag" have become an immovable part of the vernacular. How many professional athletes have admitted to homosexting? You think nobody in the Giants locker room sees Eli Manning in the shower and thinks, "Well, he looks kinda retarded, but cute retarded"? Why would a teenage boy who wants kids and a family even consider coming out if he thinks he'll be disqualified from that dream with one simple admission? There may be less and less daily discrimination, but the bigger issues linger.
This longwinded introduction brings me to the news that as of Monday at 5:01 pm, same-sex couples can officially marry in Massachusetts and now California -- two down in an unfortunate piecemeal effort.
Let me throw out a curveball here: Legally, I am not wholly for government-backed same-sex marriages. But I'm also not for government-backed marriage for the opposite sex. Everyone in this country, straight or gay, should be entitled to a state-recognized civil union, and it's up to you and your church, synagogue or mosque to go through the ritual of marriage (though if it's up to your mosque, I think you're probably in trouble and/or about to be hanged). In an ideal world, everyone has equal rights and protections under the law.
The California Supreme Court's decision that led to Monday's change in policy may or may not have been the correct legal decision; that's for smarter legal minds than mine. But what I do know is that the 4-3 ruling was a landslide victory for normalcy, a direct message to society at large that same-sex marriage should be and one day will be as acceptable as, say, interracial marriage.
When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in 1967's Loving v. Virginia, which made it illegal to put race-based restrictions on marriage, nearly three of every four Americans disapproved of the mixing of the races. Forty years later those numbers are reversed: Now almost four of every five approve of interracial marriage.
Admittedly, the Loving case and California's decision are not exactly similar. The former overturned laws barring the practice, whereas the latter set its own precedent. Also, Loving ruled that measures to prevent marriages between persons solely on the basis of racial classifications violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The California decision can't quite make the same claim, though I think 2003's Lawrence v. Texas helps the California Supreme Court's case. The point is, this may have been an instance of "activist judging," but if four decades from now gay marriage if as commonplace as interracial marriage, then it's a brilliant piece of legal work, whether it is or it isn't.
I'll never claim to be a huge marriage advocate, but you can't help but be ecstatic at the prospect of Monday's rush to the courthouse -- that couldn't have been a more important victory for sheer fuckin' normalcy, a giant leap that shows kids growing up today that same-sex couples can be the same as everyone else. And based on this landmark decision we'll have a society with healthier sexually confused teenagers, as well as much healthier adults that can find sex in a bar rather than a room where most people piss and poop.
Sometimes you need to chip away at society until what's right is also what's conventional. Given Gov. David Patterson's announcement that he will sneak gay marriage through the back door, New York probably isn't terribly far away from this step -- that will make three. Do I hear a fourth? Then a fifth? With Loving as a shining example, maybe the next generation won't even think twice about a two-groom or two-bride wedding cake.
So I only have one question for Californians: Are you ready for some man-on-dog shit? Ricky Santorum says it's comin', and I hear it's rampant in Massachusetts. Godspeed, Golden State.