Dixon's campaign issued a statement Monday touting his "faith in God" and support for "traditional marriage" while condemning any opponents who try to use his past against him.
"Through the years, I have publicly spoken about being abused as a child and the confusion this caused me as a teenager," said Dixon in the statement. "There are literally thousands of Missourians who will understand how heartbreaking childhood abuse can be -- though few might be willing to acknowledge it."
"I have put the childhood abuse and the teenage confusion behind me," Dixon added in the press release.
"What others intended for harm has resulted in untold good. I have overcome, and will not allow evil to win. ... There are people who to this day try to turn politics into a blood sport. This sort of approach discourages many good people from public service. While it is disappointing, I will have no fear of those who wish to tear down others for their gain. I will have no part of it."
Dixon and his mother, former Republican state Rep. Jean Dixon, have both used his "ex-gay" claims before in the political arena. Dixon's mother adamantly opposed the staging of The Normal Heart at Missouri State University in 1989 and told Missouri's Springfield News-Leader in 1992 that her son's homosexuality upset her and spurred her protest of the play.
As for Dixon himself, in May 1991 he spoke before the Springfield City Council to oppose a hate crimes ordinance. Records from the meeting 24 years ago do not reveal exactly what Dixon said to the committee, but that 1992 newspaper report records that he told the councilors he was gay in his teenage years, until a religious conversion. He also told them that he planned to get married. Dixon was 22 at the time.
David Clohessy, the St. Louis-based director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, spoke to reporters Monday about Dixon, noting his support for legislation to help "protect kids from predators," but stopped short of endorsing him.
"As best we can tell, he's the first statewide candidate in Missouri history to disclose that he was molested as a child," said Clohessy. "We are sad for his trauma but grateful for his candor. Adults who have the courage to talk publicly about having been sexually assaulted, at any age by any predator, should be applauded.
In his campaign announcement, Dixon touted his conservative record in the state legislature. "I'm 100 percent pro-life," Dixon said. "I'm a strong supporter of the the Second Amendment, actually I'm a strong supporter of the whole Constitution. And I've spent about the last 23 years as a strong supporter of traditional marriage."
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