JEFFRSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Republican state lawmaker, Zachary Wyatt on Wednesday publicly came out to his colleagues during a press conference asking for the withdrawal of Missouri’s “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”
In doing so, Wyatt becomes the only openly gay Republican state lawmaker in the country, according to PROMO, Missouri’s statewide advocacy organization for LGBT equality.
The announcement was made while Wyatt offered an amendment containing enumerated categories to an anti-bullying bill up for debate.
Wyatt, who represents Missouri’s 2nd District in the state House, said that he had heard anti-gay snickering, jokes and bigotry at the Capitol, which prompted his own personal story on bullying and to come out.
“We are incredibly proud of Representative Wyatt’s courage today,” says A.J. Bockelman, Executive Director of PROMO.
“We hope this announcement should serve as a positive example not only for the LGBT community, but also for Representative Wyatt’s colleagues. We truly hope the announcement will be met with support from his colleagues and friends from both sides of the aisle and respect his decision to be true to his identity and self,” Bockelman said.
Wyatt’s announcement comes at a time when all eyes are already on state lawmakers from the LGBT community due to widespread attention surrounding Missouri’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, and the decision by the House to make a Concealed Carry Permit holder a protected class for employment.
If passed, the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” would ban public school-sponsored instruction, material, or extracurricular activities that discuss sexual orientation except when concerning human reproduction.
Wyatt’s tenure as the country’s only openly gay GOP state lawmaker is short-lived, however; he is leaving his “political life behind” when the legislative session ends to study marine biology at the University of Hawaii.