In May I wrote about Andrew Hartzler, a former Oral Roberts University student who endured years of conversion therapy, a suicide attempt, and life at the ultraconservative university.
I said at the time, "If all this wasn't enough, according to Politico, Hartzler's parents' home in suburban Kansas City, Mo., is on the same property occupied by his father's brother and sister-in-law, Republican U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler. She has advocated for draconian anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and made many anti-trans comments, including one that got her suspended from Twitter."
Well, Hartzler's aunt has done it again, and this time her nephew had seen enough.
During a speech on the House floor while debating the Respect for Marriage Act, which passed the House, and Senate, and will be signed by President Biden on Tuesday, Rep. Hartzler of Missouri started crying while narrow-mindedly railing against same-sex marriage.
"I hope and pray that my colleagues find the courage to join me in opposing this misguided and dangerous bill," Vicky Hartzler said through tears.
In a TikTok that went viral, Andrew Hartzler responded with reason: "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 then continued, "So despite coming out to my aunt this past February, I guess she's still just as much as a homophobe."
I was all too happy to catch up with Andrew again. He is a kind, thoughtful, cheerful guy, and when asked about how his retort to his aunt's waterworks was received, he had a jovial response.
"It's been overwhelming in a good way," he said during our phone call. "I've heard from so many lesbians who have offered to be my aunt."
In all seriousness, Hartzler thought what his aunt did and said on the House floor was dangerous. "She has a history of targeting the LGBTQ+ community," Hartzler stated. "I saw my aunt's comments as shocking, and the attention she created is bound to have negative implications.
"When she stands in the chamber and demonizes an entire group of people, she is spreading hate. People will listen to her because of her position, and they will react in a way that could be threatening."
"Her words have implications, and it's why when people like her frame queer people as a threat to their religion, it gives way to harm and violence. We just saw the ramifications of hate speech with the Club Q mass shooting, and we see it every day with crimes against our community."
Hartzler confirmed his aunt's words caused him direct harm: "I really don't want to get into it, but I was called a groomer, among other things, a bunch of times, so I'm sure she didn't even think about how her words would impact her nephew."
I asked Hartzler if his aunt was prone to cry. "Yes, she has cried before talking against freedom of choice. She gets teary because she believes babies are being thrown in a dumpster. Having said that, and this may sound odd, but I do believe that her tears are genuine."
Was she crying over the marriage debate because she thinks we're all going to hell? "Yes, I think you're right," Hartzler concurred. "I came out to her this past February, and when the first initial vote on the marriage act occurred in July, I remember she didn't vote on the bill. I knew she was in D.C., so I naively thought, Wow, maybe she didn't vote no and didn't vote at all to show respect for her gay nephew. Of course, I was wrong about that."
"So maybe you're right that she was crying because if I married a man I'm doomed to go to hell and eternal damnation."
Hartzler said he has not heard from his aunt, but if he decides to go home for the holidays, he's likely to see her. "I'm in Tulsa, so I'm not sure I'll be making the trip back home to Kansas," he debated. "There's nothing healthy about being with people who say they love you but don't accept you."