one to watch

Out lawmaker Ian Mackey grew up surrounded by homophobia. Now he’s fighting back!

Missouri Democratic Rep. Ian Mackey made national headlines back in April for a speech he gave in which he blasted his transphobic GOP colleagues.

35-year-old Mackey is openly gay and was elected in the November 2018 midterms to represent a suburb of St Louis. His speech came during a debate over HB 2140, a wide-ranging elections bill that aimed to introduce a new voter ID requirement.

Republicans tried sneaking in an amendment that would permit public school districts to put a measure on the local ballot that, if approved, would ban trans girls from participating in girls’ sports.

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Mackey’s speech targeted the author of the amendment, Rocheport Republican Chuck Basye, who revealed that he had a gay brother last year.

Basye said his brother had been scared to come out to him for fear of his sibling’s reaction. But, Basye noted, his brother should not have worried.

In his speech, Mackey argued that HB 2140 was exactly the sort of legislation that made LGBTQ people worry about coming out.

“Can I tell you, if I were your brother, I would have been afraid to tell you too,” said Mackey to Bayse. “Because of stuff like this. Because this is what you’re focused on.”

“I was afraid of people like you growing up and I grew up in Hickory County, Missouri,” Mackey said to Bayse. “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 then 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. I think every day of the kids who are still there! Who haven’t escaped from this kind of bigotry.”

HB 2140 passed the GOP-controlled house by 96-47. However, the state’s legislative session has come to a close, and HB 2140 did not advance further.

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After his childhood in the Ozarks, Mackey attended Westminster College in Fulton. He briefly worked as an educator, before switching to law and working as an attorney.

He was elected to represent the 87th district of Missouri in 2018. Following redistricting, he’s now running for his third term to represent the reapportioned 99th House district, which now includes the St. Louis communities of Clayton, Ladue and Olivette.

As a lawmaker, he focuses largely on education, criminal justice reform, equal rights, health care, a fair economy and gun violence protection.

Last year, he was among the state lawmakers to support modernizing Missouri’s legal code regarding HIV. The state eventually voted (SB 53) to downgrade the crime of “reckless exposure” of someone to HIV to a Class D felony from a Class B felony. The legislation included an amendment filed by Mackey.

“The defeat of HB 2140 illustrates the importance of LGBTQ representation,” Mackey told Queerty. “Being able to speak personally about the harmful effects of legislation like this, with people who in the context of our workplace view me as a friend, is key to defeating bills like this.”

“Out of 163 state representatives only five openly identify as LGBTQ, and we’ve never had an open member of the community elected to statewide office. As we make progress electing more members of LGBTQ community to public office, we will continue to make progress on defeating legislation like HB 2140.”

We’re proud of Mackey for all the work he has done to change hearts, minds, and laws surrounding LGBTQ people, and for not being afraid to stick up to a bully. We look forward to watching him in the years the come. We have a feeling we’ll be hearing much more from him the future.

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