Metro Weekly

Utah Lt. Gov. apologizes for past homophobia in wake of Orlando shootings: “My heart has changed”

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox told a vigil for the Orlando victims that he "humbly apologized" for his past treatment of gay people

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Credit: Facebook
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Credit: Facebook

“I’m here because, yesterday morning, 49 Americans were brutally murdered. And it made me sad. And it made me angry. And it made me confused. I’m here because those 49 people were gay. I’m here because it shouldn’t matter. But I’m here because it does.”

–Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, at a vigil Monday night in honor of the Orlando shooting victims.

Cox, a self-described “balding, youngish, middle-aged straight, white, male, Republican,” delivered a beautiful, heartfelt speech in which he apologized for past instances of homophobia, thanked the LGBT community for the love and respect they always showed towards him, called for his colleagues and other politicians to change their attitudes towards LGBT people, and above all called for America to prove its greatness in the wake of the massacre.

“I grew up in a small town and went to a small rural high school. There were some kids in my class that were different,” Cox said. “Sometimes I wasn’t kind to them. I didn’t know it at the time, but I know now that they were gay. I will forever regret not treating them with the kindness, dignity and respect — the love — that they deserved. For that, I sincerely and humbly apologize.”

Cox challenged those whose opinions of the shooting were affected by the sexuality and gender identity of the victims.

“I am speaking now to the straight community. How did you feel when you heard that 49 people had been gunned down by a self-proclaimed terrorist? That’s the easy question,” he said. “Here is the hard one: Did that feeling change when you found out the shooting was at a gay bar at 2 a.m. in the morning? If that feeling changed, then we are doing something wrong.”

He also attacked those in his party who rushed to blame Islam, shifting the focus from the homophobic nature of the attacks.

“Usually when tragedy occurs, we see our nation come together. I was saddened, yesterday to see far too many retreating to their over-worn policy corners and demagoguery,” Cox stated. “Let me be clear, there are no simple policy answers to this tragedy. Beware of anyone who tells you that they have the easy solution. It doesn’t exist.”

The full text of Cox’s speech is available here, but we urge you to watch him deliver it personally below. And to the Republican Party, perhaps consider this guy for president rather than that orange oaf you’re currently pushing on us.

NPR also spoke with Cox about his speech, where he explores some interesting ideas, including his support for the LGBT community and how that interacts with his Mormon faith.

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