Republicans turned onone of their own on Wednesday, demanding that Senator Larry Craig resignover his recent arrest in a men's washroom.
Craig, a Republican from Idaho, was arrested June 8 when he allegedly made sexual advances to an undercover police officer who was in the stall next to his ina public washroom at the Minneapolis airport.
Craig, 62,pleaded guilty on Aug. 8 to disorderly conduct, paid $575 US in fines and was put on unsupervised probation for a year.
Since then, he has saidhe regrets pleading guilty, which he said he did in order to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. Craig insists the police officer misconstrued his actions.
On Wednesday, Pete Hoekstra, a representative from Michigan, was first to call for Craig to step down. Senators John McCain of Arizona and Norm Coleman of Minnesota soon followed suit.
"Senator Craig pled guilty to a crime involving conduct unbecoming a senator," Coleman said in a written statement.
McCain argued that a senator should not be pleading guilty to any crimes.
"My opinion is that when you plead guilty to a crime, you shouldn't serve. That's not a moral stand. That's not a holier-than-thou. It's just a factual situation," McCain told CNN.
Republican Senate leaders issued a statement Wednesday explaining that Craig had "agreed to comply" with a request to temporarily step down from prominent Senate committees, including the veterans affairs committee.
While Craig was taking criticism from fellow Republicans, he was also attacked by gay activists, who said Craig is a prime example of hypocrisy — a man who they say engages in same-sex liaisons while consistently opposing gay-rights measures as a politician.
Craig has voted against same-sex marriage and has opposed special protections for gay and lesbian crime victims.
"He may very well not think of himself as being gay, and these are just urges that he has,'' said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
"It's the tragedy of homophobia. People create these walls that separate themselves from who they really are.''
But Craig, a married father of three, insists he is straight.
"I am not gay. I've never been gay," he said Tuesday at a news conference in Boise, Idaho. "I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport."