What are Mark Foley’s Follies?

In Counterpunch, Gary Leupp has a different take on the Mark Foley affair.

Foley–if he were to openly acknowledge his sexuality–might declare that he just happens to like (just barely legal if legal-aged) boys, and has engaged them in mutually enjoyable private conversations over the net which are simply nobody else’s business. (No one has yet charged to my knowledge that he has had illegal physical intercourse with underage youths. That may come, but I haven’t read that yet.) But most seem convinced already that he’s guilty of the attempted seduction or at least efforts to corrupt “children.” The Republican leadership in Congress, dismayed at how the Democrats are using this, and frightened by the media spin on the story (“may well threaten Republican control over Congress”) has decided to throw the book at its formerly esteemed colleague. Hastert, Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, and Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri now accuse Foley of “an obscene breach of trust,” and declare “[Foley’s] immediate resignation must now be followed by the full weight of the criminal justice system.” Obviously they want to seem, like the hypocritical French policeman in the film Casablanca, “Shocked shocked!” by the news.

But what, specifically, shocks here? Congressional pages must by current rules be at least 16 years old, the minimum age having been raised from 14 during the last big Congressional page-related sex scandal (in 1983, in which Hastert’s Illinois Republican colleague Rep. Daniel B. Crane was involved). In many states, 16 is the age of consent for males, and in some of these, homosexual relations are not illegal. These include Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. In Hawai’i, consent age is 14. In Washington DC, it is also 16 and there is no law on homosexuality. (In Louisiana, the age is 17 and gay sex is technically still illegal.)