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ID Senator’s “Gay” Comments Rile Human Rights Advocates in Wyoming

August 29, 2007

Cheyenne, WY – Idaho Senator Larry Craig (R) is in the headlines again today for his arrest and guilty plea in a lewd conduct case, and he defended himself yesterday by saying, "I’m not gay."

It’s a comment that Bob Spencer of Cheyenne finds offensive because it connects homosexuality with crime. "I’m not gay," is a strange way to explain lewd conduct, says the retired hospital chaplain and spokesman for the gay rights organization Wyoming Equality.

"I think some people who are gay, or families of people who are gay, will feel angry. I think some of them will feel like I do –- furious."

Spencer points to Craig’s obvious fear of being labeled "gay" as an example of the real-life barriers that gay, lesbian, and transgendered people face.

"There are a lot of people in the gay community that, at one or time or another, have probably tried to deny that they’re gay because they’re afraid of what could happen, when repercussions could be out there."

Spencer notes the Equality State is especially sensitive to human rights issues because of the Matthew Shepard murder case. Senator Craig pleaded guilty to charges of disorderly conduct after an investigation into bathroom behavior in the Minneapolis Airport. He was arrested on June 11.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WY