Spencer Cox is the 40-year-0ld Republican lieutenant governor of Utah, one of the most conservative states in the nation. You simply don’t get elected to statewide office in that state unless you are a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. The state’s last Democratic governor left office in 1985. Frank E. Moss, the last Democratic U.S. senator from Utah, was voted out of office in 1976, replaced by current Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. So why was Spencer Cox at a vigil for the Orlando victims held on Monday evening in Salt Lake City? He came to apologize.
Cox delivered a moving nine-minute address to the crowd during which he apologized for his past treatment of gay acquaintances. He describes how he attended a small rural high school, and how at his school there were people who were “different.” He says,
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.
He goes on to explain to the gathering how he has grown in the 20-odd years since then.
Over the intervening years, my heart has changed. It has changed because of you. It has changed because I have gotten to know many of you. You have been patient with me. You helped me learn the right letters of the alphabet in the right order even though you keep adding new ones. You have been kind to me. Jim Dabakis even told me I dressed nice once, even though I know he was lying. You have treated me with the kindness, dignity, and respect — the love — that I very often did NOT deserve. And it has made me love you.
Cox seems to be speaking directly to his fellow Republicans, particularly those far out on the right-wing fringe, when he says this:
I believe that there is a question, two questions actually, that each of us needs to ask ourselves in our heart of hearts. And 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. 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.
There is really nothing more to be said about the remarks, because Cox said everything so eloquently himself. Maybe his remarks will mean nothing to most Republicans. But maybe they signal the beginning of the end of the GOP’s campaign of hate against LGBT Americans. Have your tissues ready. It will be hard to listen to this without a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye.
Here is Cox’s address to the vigil, via YouTube:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MU_ZP2j74bY?rel=0]
Featured image via Twitter