Louisiana Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, the new speaker of the House of Representatives, is likely a new face for many Americans.
Johnson was House Republicans’ fourth nominee for speaker after the ouster of California Rep. Kevin McCarthy on Oct. 3, the first time in U.S. history a House speaker had been removed from their position partway through their term.
Johnson has a long track record of opposing LGBTQ+ rights. He introduced a bill called the Stop the Sexualization of Children Act of 2022 that would have barred federal funding for what it termed “sexually-oriented” events or materials for children, effectively banning state and local agencies that receive federal funding, including school districts, from discussing gender or sexual orientation with children, no matter what local laws said. Critics described it as a national version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
More recently, Johnson led a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government during which he spread false information about health care for transgender people and questioned the legitimacy of trans people and their identities.
“Sex isn’t something you are assigned at birth. It is a prenatal development that occurs when every unborn child is in its mother’s womb. You can’t surgically free yourself, or someone else, from this fact of life,” Johnson said during the hearing.
He went on to characterize LGBTQ+ people as representative of something that has gone “terribly wrong” in American society.
“Today, nearly one in four high school students identifies as LGBTQ,” Johnson said. “Whether it’s by scalpel or by social coercion from teachers, professors, administrators, and left-wing media, it’s an attempt to transition the young people of our country.”
The LGBTQ+ rights advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign puts out a yearly Congressional Scorecard ranking lawmakers on their support for legislation protecting LGBTQ+ rights. The group gave Johnson a zero score for each of his last three terms.
Johnson worked for years for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group best known for helping lead the fight to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the country. In 2006, Johnson said “many people believe” homosexuality is “morally wrong and physically dangerous,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
He wrote editorials for his hometown newspaper, the Times of Shreveport, Louisiana, calling homosexuality “inherently unnatural” and “bizarre” and advocating against legalization of same-sex marriage.
“If we change marriage for this tiny, modern minority, we will have to do it for every deviant group,” he wrote in 2004. “Polygamists, polyamorists, pedophiles and others will be next in line to claim equal protection.”
Most Americans disagree with Johnson’s views of the LGBTQ+ community.
Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson denounced Johnson’s elevation to House speaker in an Oct. 25 statement.
“The MAGA House majority has selected the most anti-equality Speaker in U.S. history by elevating Mike Johnson,” Robinson said. “This is a choice that will be a stain on the record of everyone who voted for him.”