ONTD Political

‘Don’t say gay’ bill prompts lawmaker to come out...

6:22 pm - 05/02/2012
JEFFERSON CITY — A Kirksville Republican lawmaker announced publicly he is gay today at a news conference opposing a bill that has gained national attention for its proposed restrictions on in-school discussions of sexuality.




Rep. Zach Wyatt, who is leaving the House after a single term to study marine biology, said during the news conference that he could no longer keep his sexual orientation to himself in the face of what he considers an example of bigoted legislation.

“This year I have gotten a chance to truly look at my life,” Wyatt said. “I will not lie to myself anymore about my own sexuality.”

The news conference, organized by Progress Missouri and the gay rights group PROMO, featured four Republican and five Democratic lawmakers calling on Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Fairdealing, to withdraw his bill, which has been dubbed the “don’t say gay” bill.

Cookson’s bill would bar schools from using instructional materials or sponsoring extracurricular activities that discuss sexual orientation except in “scientific instruction concerning human reproduction.” The bill has not had a hearing and is unlikely to pass, with a little more than two weeks remaining in the legislative session.

The proposal, which has more than 20 Republican co-sponsors, including House Speaker Steve Tilley and House Majority Leader Tim Jones, again brought national media attention to the Missouri House and made it the butt of jokes on late-night television.

The bill would make it impossible to discuss bullying based on sexual orientation and, Wyatt said, could make students reluctant to discuss issues that trouble them. “If I can save one kid from hurting themselves, it will be worth it,” he said.

Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, said the bill would eliminate more than 80 gay-straight alliance groups at high schools across the state. “We certainly don’t need legislation that is mean and hurts our kids,” she said.

The bill is misunderstood, said Cookson, who said he would not withdraw the measure. Schools should focus on matters that will lead to success in life, such as math, science and reading, Cookson said.

“I’m representing my part of the state of Missouri,” he said.


Asked whether homosexuality was unwelcome in his home area, he said: “I didn’t say it wasn’t unwelcome; we just don’t want — I don’t think the majority of the people in my area want it taught in our public schools, any kind of sexuality.”

The bill would make it far more difficult for young people to deal with their emerging sexuality, A.J. Bockelman of PROMO said. “It only serves to further alienate students at a vulnerable time,” he said.

The bill has the support of many social conservative organizations. Abram Messer of the Missouri Family Network said homosexuality is a choice and not biologically determined. The bill is an attempt to stop “social engineering” in the schools, he said.

“We want you to teach biology,” he said.


The Republicans who took part in the news conference along with Wyatt are Anne Zerr of St. Charles, Donna Lichtenegger of Jackson and Noel Torpey of Indepdendence. Democrats on hand along with Newman were Mike Colona, Chris Carter and Jeanette Mott Oxford, all of St. Louis, and Judy Morgan of Kansas City.

Wyatt, who announced his opposition to the bill last week in a letter to constituents, noted that while in school he was bullied for being overweight and for “not always been perceived as the most masculine of men.”

This bill made keeping his personal sexual orientation private impossible if he wanted to have an impact, Wyatt said. “I had to sit back and think if this is the right time to do it. I think I needed to step up and lead.”


Source: Columbia Tribune

I love when 'human being' trumps 'political party'. Doesn't happen often enough. He's not 'my' representative, but I already emailed him a note of support and thanks. I hold out hope that more Missourians are like this guy than like Cookson.


ETA: Courtesy perthro

MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue
Room 400CC
Jefferson City MO 65101

Zachary.Wyatt@house.mo.gov
shellazure 2nd-May-2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
OMG THIS IS MY FRIEND. OMG I'M SO PROUD. WE WENT THROUGH TRAINING TOGETHER IN THE MILITARY AND OMG OMG OMG

Maybe something more coherent in a little bit.
tabaqui 3rd-May-2012 01:36 am (UTC)
Ooh, so cool! :)
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