The gay nephew of Missouri Republican Representative Vicky Hartzler called her out after she cried as she begged her Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives to vote against the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) in the spirit of protecting Americans "who believe in the true meaning of marriage" and referred to the bill as "dangerous."
The House ultimately approved the legislation, which guarantees federal recognition of any marriage between two people if it was valid in the state where they were married. It also requires states to accept the legitimacy of a valid marriage performed elsewhere but does not require any state to issue a marriage license contrary to its own laws.
Hartzler said the "misguided" legislation is an affront to "religious liberty" and "religious faith."
You can hear what she said in the video below.
Her words quickly caught the attention of her 23-year-old nephew Andrew Hartzler, who made a TikTok video informing his aunt religious institutions aren't being persecuted just because marriage equality makes it possible for people she hates to get married.
You can hear what he said in the video below.
Andrew Hartzler said:
"Today a United States Congresswoman, my aunt Vicky, started crying because gay people like me can get married. So despite coming out to my aunt this past February, I guess she's still just as much of a homophobe."
"Aunt Vicky, that's not right. Institutions of faith like religious universities are not being silenced. They're being empowered by the U.S. government to discriminate against tens of thousands of LGBTQ students because of religious exemptions but they still receive federal funding."
“It's more like you want the power to force your religious beliefs onto everyone else, and because you don't have that power, you feel like you're being silenced."
“But you're not. You're just gonna have to learn to coexist with all of us. And I'm sure it's not that hard.”
Andrew Hartzler also spoke to Buzzfeed News about his relationship with his aunt; the outlet noted she had "recently invited him to spend Thanksgiving at her home, but he opted not to go because he didn’t feel he’d be accepted there."
He said he wishes that his aunt could see "how harmful her words are and that she wouldn't use her political power to continue instilling religious exemptions into civil rights laws and allowing schools to actively discriminate against LGBTQ people." He added that he considers his aunt "the perpetrator of a lot of harm being done" and that "she needs to take responsibility.”
Many have praised him for speaking out.
Vicky Hartzler is one of the most virulently anti-LGBTQ+ members of Congress and has openly opposed same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships throughout her political career.
In 2019, Hartzler wrote an editorial in which she rejected the Equality Act, which, if passed, would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (including titles II, III, IV, VI, VII, and IX) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, federally funded programs, credit and jury service.
That same year, she sponsored an event by proponents of conversion therapy, which is defined as any attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The controversial practice has been rejected by all major medical and psychological organizations.
It is often described as "promoting healthy sexuality" or "sexual reorientation efforts" in right-wing circles as conversion therapy has come under further scrutiny.
In an interview with CNN, Andrew Hartzler said he was "subjected to conversion therapy practices" that were "totally legal because of the policies that my aunt has helped put into place."
The younger Hartzler, who works in social services and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said he used to be close to his aunt but that their relationship changed once he came out to her in February. He recalled she "met [me] with the same type of, 'I love you, but I don't accept you, because you're gay."
He has also publicly advocated on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community before, joining a class-action lawsuit filed last year against the Department of Education that is seeking to end an exemption in federal civil rights law that allows religiously affiliated universities that receive federal funding to "openly discriminate" against LGBTQ+ students.