A Republican state representative in Missouri says he decided to come forward and confess that he is a homosexual out of frustration with a bill in the state legislature that would restrict the discussion of sexual orientation in public schools.
Rep. Zach Wyatt, the 28-year-old first-term lawmaker from a rural district, sent a letter to his constituents earlier in the week saying he was opposed to the bill but did not discuss or reveal his sexual identity until Wednesday.
"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 told his colleagues and reporters in a conference room in the state capitol on Wednesday.
In an unusual move for a first-term lawmaker, Wyatt made headlines last month when he announced he would not seek reelection to the seat he won in 2010, saying instead he plans to study Marine Biology at the University of Hawaii. A few weeks later he criticized his fellow Republican lawmakers for their lack of action on a resolution that was filed to bring impeachment proceedings against a circuit court judge.
"I will not lie to myself anymore about my own sexuality," said Wyatt, who admitted he had been living in a "glass house."
"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 the snide ones, about me," Wyatt said.
The piece of legislation that brought the issue to light is House Bill 2051 which would prohibit the discussion of sexual orientation in public school instruction except when discussing human reproduction or in scientific instruction. Critics of the bill have termed it the "don't say gay bill."
Prior to revealing that he is a homosexual, Wyatt spoke forcefully against the bill and encouraged the sponsor, Rep. Steve Cookson, to withdraw the bill.
"A lot of our schools within the state of Missouri do have the gay and straight alliance groups," Wyatt said last week. "Homosexuality should not be a Republican or Democrat issue. Ever since we were founded as a party, equal rights and freedoms have been our cornerstone of our party, and I think that we need to start living like that."
An assistant to Rep. Wyatt told The Christian Post that the Missouri legislature plans to adjourn on May 18 and that the bill will probably not be acted upon this session.