The newly elected Republican Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, has sparked outrage among the LGBTQ+ community and their allies for his history of promoting gay conversion therapy and making derogatory comments about homosexuality.
Johnson, who represents Louisiana’s 4th congressional district, has been involved with anti-gay groups, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Louisiana Family Forum, and has opposed gay rights, such as marriage equality and sodomy laws.
In audio clips obtained by CNN, Johnson claims that homosexuality is a choice, a behavior, and a cause of the fall of Rome, based on his religious views.
“Homosexuality is a choice, it’s a behavior, it’s not an identity. It’s not who you are, it’s what you do. And it’s a behavior that can be changed. And it’s a behavior that led to the downfall of the Roman Empire,” Johnson said in a 2015 radio interview.
Johnson’s views have been criticized by LGBTQ+ activists, Democrats, and some Republicans, who say they are harmful, hateful, and unrepresentative of the American people.
“Mike Johnson is a bigot who has spent his entire career attacking LGBTQ people and our families. He is unfit to serve as Speaker of the House and should resign immediately,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization.
“Mike Johnson is not a speaker for all Americans, he is a speaker for a narrow and extremist faction of the Republican Party. His views are dangerous, divisive, and discriminatory. He should be ashamed of himself and his party should be ashamed of him,” said Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader and the first woman to hold the position.
Some of Johnson’s Republican colleagues have defended him, saying that he has the right to have his own beliefs and that he is a good leader and a friend.
“I don’t agree with everything Mike Johnson says or does, but I respect his right to have his own beliefs. He’s a good leader and a good friend. I think he’ll do a great job as Speaker,” said Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader and the former Speaker of the House.
Some LGBTQ+ politicians have also expressed their dismay at Johnson’s views, saying that they do not care about his personal opinions, but about his actions as a legislator and how they affect the lives of millions of LGBTQ+ Americans.
“I don’t care what Mike Johnson thinks about my sexuality or my marriage. I care about what he does as a legislator and how he affects the lives of millions of LGBTQ Americans. And so far, he has done nothing but harm and hurt,” said Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation and the first openly gay cabinet member in US history.
Johnson has not responded to the criticism or apologized for his remarks, but has issued a statement saying that he is honored to serve as the Speaker of the House and that he will work for the best interests of the American people.
– Mike Johnson Says the Gays Ended Rome in Newly Released Audio Recordings, Yahoo News, November 2, 2023
– What role Speaker Mike Johnson’s religious views play in his politics, ABC News, October 27, 2023
– How new House Speaker Mike Johnson spent years fighting against gay rights, MSN, October 26, 2023
– House Speaker Mike Johnson partnered with anti-gay conversion therapy group, CNN, November 1, 2023