Well, this is new: A Republican politician in Missouri is openly gay.
Reflect on that fact for a moment because, as with a lot of things in the Missouri Statehouse, it won't be true for long.
His name is Zachary Wyatt. He's a 27-year-old representative from Green Castle, in northern Missouri. When the session and his term end May 18, he'll be jetting off to Hawaii, trading cattle farming for mai tais and sunscreen. He just had to finish one errand first.
"Being gay has never been a Republican or Democrat issue, and it should never be," Wyatt said May 2 in prepared remarks, in which he came out — and also came out against the "Don't Say Gay" bill that would bar discussing homosexuality in public schools. "With national attention on the Missouri House of Representatives in regards to House Bill 2051, I am compelled to still speak out against colleagues and especially the special interest groups who have pushed this bill forward."
Welcome to the bumpy close to another chaotic Statehouse session in Missouri's now-you-see-it, now-you-don't Legislature.
This year, the Missouri Legislature has been great fodder for late-night comedians such as Stephen Colbert, who riffed on the "Don't Say Gay" bill on his Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report.
"Folks, finding out that homosexuality exists is a slippery slope to tolerating it," Colbert said.
The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi followed up that report, butting heads with state Rep. Wanda Brown over House Bill 1621, which prevents employers from firing employees for owning guns — instances of which no one had heard before Brown's bill.
"How many examples of gun-owner discrimination do you know of?" Mandvi asked Brown.
"Well, you know, I'd rather not get into examples," she stumbled.
"Right, you must have thousands of them. But can you give me a few?"
"This is preventative," she said. "I'd just like to protect the Second Amendment [rights] of everyone in the future."
An awkward roasting ensued.
There's a certain brand of national reporting that exists solely as political rubbernecking for eye-grabbing conservative legislation. State Sen. Brian Nieves caught The Atlantic's attention with SJR 45, a secession-lite bill that "prohibits the Missouri legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government from recognizing, enforcing, or acting in furtherance of any federal action that exceeds the powers delegated to the federal government."
"Whoa," wrote The Atlantic's Andrew Cohen. "Is Missouri going to declare war on the United States? Are its citizens going to refuse to enforce laws they don't agree with?"
Cohen followed up with a distraught update on HB 1534, sponsored by state Rep. Kurt Bahr, which criminalizes the implementation of Obamacare, punishing any federal official who attempts to enforce the Affordable Care Act with up to a year in prison.
"What in the world is happening in Missouri?" Cohen asked. "Don't state lawmakers there have more important things to do with their time, and more practical causes to advance on behalf of their many constituents, than ginning up one unconstitutional piece of legislation after another? Is the political process in Jefferson City so hijacked by radicals that it cannot help itself?"
Most of the Missouri Legislature's more extreme ideas never become law, primarily due to a more temperate Missouri Senate killing the House's grandest aspirations, like a black hole shredding the stars that careen its way.
Consider the autopsy of House Bill 1860 — may it rest in peace, for now — which pitted Missouri hog farmers in a battle against the First Amendment.
On April 19, by a veto-proof majority of 108-32, the Missouri House of Representatives voted to pass HB 1860, which would have made it a misdemeanor to lie on a job application to an animal farm — and to film or merely possess undercover footage.