A Republican lawmaker in Missouri on Wednesday announced that he was gay and called on his colleagues to revoke their support for a “horrible” bill that would prevent the discussion of homosexuality in schools.
“I will not lie to myself anymore about my own sexuality,” state Rep. Zachary Wyatt said during a press conference at the State Capitol. “It has probably been the hardest thing to come to terms with. I have always ignored it, 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.”
“I’m not the first or last Republican to come out. I’ve just gotten tired of the bigotry being shown from both sides of the aisle on gay issues. Being gay has never been a Republican or Democrat issue.”
Wyatt warned that Missouri’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill would make it impossible for LGBT students to speak with teachers and counselors when they were being bullied.
“This is why I’m here today to ask members of my party who support or signed onto House Bill 2051 to withdraw their support,” the GOP lawmaker remarked. “If I can save one kid from hurting themselves or taking their life then I’ve done my job as a representative.”
“Today I ask you all to lead, to stand up for freedom and individual rights. 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 acknowledged that he had “deep regrets” for previously appearing to support the Republican position on an anti-bullying bill and for casting a no-vote on a non-discrimination measure.
“The thing that I did wrong was see what the Republican stance was on the issue,” he explained. “I didn’t truly think about the issue and how I had been myself even a victim of school bullying. I can actually now say that I went against my beliefs.”
In a statement on his website, Wyatt said that he was withdrawing his name as a Republican candidate and planned to move to Hawaii to study marine biology.
During his time as a the state House, the GOP representative voted for restrictions on abortions, voter ID, drug testing welfare recipients and requirements that presidential candidates prove their citizenship.
“I will leaving my political life behind for sunscreen, Mai Tais and the sun,” Wyatt told his colleagues on Wednesday.
Watch this video from Progress Missouri, uploaded May 2, 2012.