Missouri Representative Zachary Wyatt (R-02) on Wednesday officially disclosed that he is gay as he held a press conference against the state’s proposed Don’t Say Gay in schools bill.
Speaking in Hearing Room 5 at the State Capitol, Wyatt condemned what he called a “horrible bill” that would make illegal nearly all discussions on homosexuality in public schools, including conversations between students and school staff about their own sexuality.
“Today I ask you to stand with me as a proud Republican, a proud veteran, and a proud gay man who wants to protect all kids, addressing bullying in our schools,” Wyatt said.
“I will not lie to myself anymore about my own sexuality. It has probably been the hardest thing to come to terms with. I have always ignored it. I didn’t even think about it or want to talk about it. I’ve not been immune to it. I hear the comments, usually snide ones, about me,” Wyatt said.
“I am not the first or last Republican to come out. I have just gotten tired of the bigotry being shown on both sides of the aisle on gay issues.”
The Don’t Say Gay bill, House Bill 2051, goes beyond even Tennessee’s now dead education bill to ban after school clubs that mention LGBT themes. This would in fact appear to violate federal law, but GOP lawmakers have not been deterred.
The legislation, sponsored by Republican Rep. Steve Cookson, is designed to prevent kids being indoctrinated into homosexuality and learning about gay marriage in schools against the wishes of their parents, Republican lawmakers have said.
Wyatt, who openly describes himself as a practicing Catholic, has led the charge against the bill and†wrote a letter to the Kirksville Daily Express recently in which he said that during his time as a legislator he had made some mistakes and followed others when he should have spoken up. He wouldn’t make that mistake where this legislation was concerned, he vowed:
As such, I am compelled†to speak out against my colleagues who have sponsored and pushed House Bill 2051. This bill,†which has garnered national attention, has been dubbed the “Donít Say Gay” bill. I have become†tired and frustrated with the bigotry on gay issues from both sides of the isle. Homosexuality is†not a Republican or Democrat issue, and should not be portrayed as such. Students not only need,†but have a right to feel safe with the go to school. They should be able to speak with teachers,†counselors, or administrators when they get bullied. This bill would make that illegal.
Rep. Steve Cookson has said that he will not withdraw the bill, though with time running down on this legislative session it appears unlikely at this stage that the bill will pass.
UPDATE: A video of Rep. Wyatt’s speech has now been made available. Watch below:
Image taken from video, no infringement intended.