Jefferson City, MO
Missouri State Representative Zachary Wyatt, a Republican and Air Force veteran, came out as gay at a press conference today in Jefferson City while denouncing "Don't Say Gay" legislation proposed by another Republican lawmaker.
Joined by nine fellow legislators, both Democrat and Republican, Wyatt, 27, asked his colleague to rescind the bill. Wyatt is a cattle farmer in addition to representing a northern rural area in the state.
Wyatt made comment to the Kirksville Express on bullying: "I've not been immune to it. I hear the comments, usually snide ones, directed at me. 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. Being gay has never been a Republican or Democrat issue, and it never should be."
"I will not lie to myself anymore about my own sexuality," Wyatt added during the news conference at the state Capitol. "I am still the same person that I was when I woke up this morning and I will be the same person when I go to bed tonight. 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."
The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Steve Cookson (R), has refused to withdraw the fill saying "Those are personal issues that probably should be taught by people outside the school system. We need to be focusing on what is going to provide students with the skills they need to be productive citizens in our society."
The proposed Missouri legislation, which is not likely to pass this year, has stirred controversy and has been mocked by comedians. Similar legislation in Tennessee has lost support and will not be brought to the floor.
Wyatt is not seeking re-election.