An impromptu speech by an openly gay Missouri state lawmaker is going viral on social media.
In response to a colleague who proposed a measure that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams, Democratic state Rep. Ian Mackey shared his own experience of growing up in Hickory County, Missouri.
“I was afraid of people like you growing up,” he said Monday. “For 18 years, I walked around with nice people like you, who took me to ballgames, who told me how smart I was and then went to the ballot to vote for crap like this. I couldn’t wait to get out.”
His speech is being viewed worldwide, with more than 5 million views on Twitter and 1.5 million views on Tiktok in less than a week.
“I couldn’t wait to move to a part of our state that would reject this stuff in a minute,” Mackey, 35, continued. “Thank God I made it out, and I think every day [about] the kids that are still there that haven’t made it out, who haven’t escaped.”
In 2004, when Mackey was a high school senior, Missouri passed an amendment to ban same-sex marriage with more than 70 percent of voters in support.
In an interview with NBC affiliate KDSK of St. Louis, Mackey said he wasn’t expecting to make the speech but that he was so angry that he wanted to speak up.
“The impact of these decisions that we make as policymakers or that we make as voters, the impact that they have on people’s lives, is more profound than we can imagine. I want kids who feel that no one’s hearing them, to feel that their experience is so unique that no one else can understand, I hope they catch a glimpse of this,” Mackey said.
In response, Republican state Rep. Chuck Basye dismissed Mackey’s comments.
“When you’re dealing with an immature individual like Mackey, you know that’s what you have to deal with,” he said. “He was talking about stuff that was irrelevant to the amendment in front of the body.”
After a three-hour debate, the state House voted 89 to 40 in favor of adding the transgender sports amendment to a state election bill. The bill will now go through a fiscal review by the House before heading to the Senate.