A GOP congresswoman went viral on Thursday for tearfully pleading with her colleagues to vote against a bill that would protect same-sex marriage nationwide. Now his gay nephew is also going viral.
In a video he posted on TikTok — which had more than 556,000 views as of Friday afternoon — Andrew Hartzler slammed his aunt, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., for her tearful rebuke of the law on respect for marriage.
“Today my Aunt Vicky started crying because gay people like me can get married,” Andrew, 24, said in the video, which was shared on Thursday. “So despite coming out to my aunt last February, I guess she’s still just as homophobic.”
A representative for the MP could not be reached for comment.
On Thursday, the Republican congresswoman, who lost her primary earlier this year, collapsed in the House, pleading with her colleagues to reject bipartisan legislation in the name of religious freedom.
“I’ll tell you my priorities: protect religious freedom, protect believers, and protect Americans who believe in the true meaning of marriage,” Hartzler said in tears. “I hope and pray that my colleagues find the courage to join me in opposing this misguided and dangerous bill.
Within hours, his speech exploded online, shared by several traditional outlets and viewed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of times on social media.
After watching her viral speech, her nephew told NBC News in an interview that he felt compelled to speak out against her so her last name wouldn’t be “associated with hate.”
“The Hartzler name should be for love,” he said.
Andrew, who works in social services and lives in Tulsa, Okla., grew up on his aunt’s block in Kansas City, Mo. He said he recalled childhood memories of picnics, bike rides and trips to Washington, DC with her. He added that he wakes up early in the morning on their family trips so his aunt can take him through the underground tunnel system under the Capitol building.
But when he came out to her as gay in February, she fired him, like other family members in previous years, he said.
“I encountered the same kind of ‘I love you, but I don’t accept you, because you’re gay,'” he said. “I’m in the mindset where if you’re not for me, you’re against me, and if you don’t accept me 100%, you reject me.”
Since then, the two have not spoken to each other, Andrew said. He added, however, that his aunt invited him to her family’s Thanksgiving dinner, but he did not feel comfortable attending.
Andrew, who said he struggled with his sexuality throughout his childhood and underwent so-called gay conversion therapy, said he feared his aunt’s tearful speech upstairs in the house would be harmful to the mental health of other LGBTQ Americans.
He cited the disproportionate rates of mental health issues that afflict the nation’s LGBTQ youth in particular: nearly half of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the United States have “seriously considered” suicide in the past the past year, according to a survey of LGBTQ youth on suicide. prevention group The Trevor Project reported earlier this year.
“The kind of storytelling my aunt gives that has real-world effects,” Andrew said. “I would be doing them a disservice if I didn’t counter his story with the truth.”
This isn’t the first time Andrew has championed the cause of the LGBTQ community. He joined a class action lawsuit filed last year against the Department of Education that seeks to end a federal civil rights law exemption that the lawsuit says allows universities affiliated with religions that receive a federal funding to “openly discriminate” against LGBTQ students. .
In her speech against the Respect for Marriage Act, Rep. Hartzler argued that the legislation “does not respect the importance of traditional marriage to the health of a family” and that its “sole purpose is to give the government federal government a bludgeoning legal tool to drive people of faith out of the public square and silence anyone who opposes it.
The legislation contains an amendment specifying that religious organizations would not be required to perform same-sex marriages and that the government would not be required to protect polygamous marriages. In her speech, the MP called the amendment a “hollow”.
“It’s really interesting to me how my aunt and others on the religious right only use the term religious liberty or religious liberties when they talk about taking away the rights of others,” Andrew said. “It’s their excuse to show blatant discrimination.”
In addition to ensuring that the federal government recognizes valid same-sex marriages, the law will also protect interracial marriages. It would not require states to issue marriage licenses that contradict state law.
The legislation then passed the House by a vote of 258 to 169, with 39 Republicans supporting the legislation. Last week, it passed the Senate with bipartisan support — including the votes of 12 Republicans — and is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.