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He criticized ‘Aunt Vicky’ Hartzler for gay marriage bill tears, now he’s at White House

Kansas City Star logoKansas City Star 12/13/2022 Daniel Desrochers, The Kansas City Star

After Rep. Vicky Hartzler cried on the House floor while urging her colleagues to vote against a bill that would enshrine protections for same-sex marriage into federal law, her nephew, Andrew Hartzler, responded with a video that went viral on TikTok.

“Despite coming out to my aunt this past February, I guess she’s still just as much of a homophobe,” Andrew Hartzler said.

On Tuesday, he’ll be at the White House to watch President Joe Biden sign the bill his aunt cried over get signed into law.

“I think it just goes to show the power that you have when you stand up for what you believe in and you go against people that may have negative consequences against you because they’re your family,” Andrew Hartzler said. “Because that’s what I did. And four days later, I’m at the White House.”

Hartzler publicly came out as gay earlier this year when he became one of 40 plaintiffs from religious universities to join a class action Title IX lawsuit challenging whether religious universities should still be able to receive federal funding if they have policies that discriminate against LGBTQ students. The lawsuit is in partnership with the Religious Exemption Accountability Project.

He recently graduated from Oral Roberts University, where he had to sign a pledge that he would not engage in homosexual activity, and still lives in Tulsa.

In his video, Hartzler criticized his aunt for saying that people and institutions of faith are “in danger.”

“Aunt Vicky, that’s not right. Institutions of faith like religious universities are not being silenced,” Hartzler said. “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.”

Hartzler’s participation in the lawsuit became public in May, in the midst of his aunt’s campaign for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Vicky Hartzler made her opposition to LGBTQ rights a cornerstone of her campaign, airing a statewide ad criticizing a transgender collegiate swimmer.

It was a part of a political career built in part on her conservative religious beliefs. Before Hartzler ran for the House of Representatives, she served as spokeswoman for the campaign to define marriage as between a man and a woman in the Missouri constitution. She advocated against the elimination of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which prevented LGBTQ members from serving openly, and criticized the Obama administration for not supporting the Defense of Marriage Act.

While Hartzler said he appreciated the Biden administration’s work in advocating for Congress to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, he pointed out that it does not offer wider federal protections for LGBTQ people in a moment when local and state governments have been passing state laws that attempt to restrict their rights.

“I think that it’s an important step in the right direction,” Hartzler said. “But ultimately, for people like me who live in red states, we solely rely on federal protections. So this just isn’t enough. Because LGBTQ people are being harmed and they’re being discriminated against. And it’s having real world effects and having negative effects on our mental health, and it needs to stop.”

©2022 The Kansas City Star. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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