If you haven’t heard the speech delivered by openly gay Missouri State Rep. Ian Mackey yet, you’re about to, and you’ll be glad you did.
Under a new bill designed to change Missouri’s election laws, Republican State Rep. Chuck Basye inserted an amendment that would give local school districts the power to call elections… to decide if transgender girls can play school-sponsored girls’ sports.
The more, which ultimately passed, gives citizens the option to promote bigotry in their schools (which, in Missouri, many districts would allow) while letting Republicans throw their hands up and pretend they had nothing to do with it.
Before that amendment passed, however, Mackey, who’s openly gay, gave one of the most powerful denunciations of right-wing bigotry you’ll ever hear.
MACKEY: Do you remember your remarks on the floor last year when you brought this up?
BASYE: You’d have to give me a specific. I mean, I made a lot of remarks last year.
MACKEY: So I recall a story you told about your brother…
MACKEY: … And I remember you said… that your mother called you, I believe, to tell you that your brother had some news that he was afraid to tell you.
MACKEY: And your brother wanted to tell you that he was gay, didn’t he?
BASYE: He was expressing that to the family, and he thought that, uh, we would hold that against him and not let my children be around him.
MACKEY: Why do you think he thought that?
BASYE: I don’t know. It never would have happened, I’ll tell you that. My kids, at that point in their life, adored my brother.
MACKEY: Can I tell you, if I were your brother, I would have been afraid to tell you, too… I would have been afraid to tell you, too, because of stuff like this. Because this is what you’re focused on. This is the legislation you want to put forward. This is what consumes your time. I would have been afraid to tell you, too.
I was afraid of people like you growing up. And I grew up in Hickory County, Missouri. I grew up in a school district that would vote tomorrow to put this in place. And for 18 years, I walked around with “nice” people like you who took me to ball games, who told me how smart I was, and you went to the ballot and voted for crap like this.
And I couldn’t wait to get out. I couldn’t wait to move to a part of our state that would reject this stuff in a minute. I couldn’t wait. And thank God I made it. Thank God I made it out. And I think every day of the kids who are still there, who haven’t made it out, who haven’t escaped from this kind of bigotry. Gentlemen, I’m not afraid of you anymore, because you’re gonna lose.
You may win this today, but you’re going to lose.
This is what it looks like when Democrats fight like hell against a bill they may not be able to stop legislatively. Mackey refused to let Republicans’ smear tactics go unanswered, and he made a moral case in defense of LGBTQ kids who’ve struggled because of Republicans like Basye who don’t give a shit about their lives and who use their extraordinary power to punish LGBTQ people for the “crime” of existing.
As Mackey rightly noted, many of those bigots may seem perfectly nice in person, but their beliefs and their actions are monstrous. It’s a reality that we’ve heard time and time again when talking about evangelical preachers, Catholic priests, and other religious leaders who speak about love and inclusion while harboring hateful views about LGBTQ people.
It won’t surprise you to learn that Basye previously supported pushing Bible classes in public schools and allowing guns in churches. He recently spoke at an event where an anti-Black Lives Matter speaker promoted “Christian traditional family values.” One of his fellow Republican bigots pushed a bill that would allow students to sue their schools if a trans student “deprived” them of an athletic opportunity, whatever the hell that means. Basye and his buddies have a long history of promoting a Christian nationalist agenda in his state.
None of that will end overnight. But when people like Mackey speak up, it’s a reminder that there are decent politicians looking out for everyone’s best interests. If only more sensible voters would support them.
If only more Democrats in power had the guts to call out bigotry this forcefully, every time, never letting conservative bigotry go unchallenged.