In recent days, Americans have become increasingly aware of the extremist positions held by the new U.S. House Speaker, Mike Johnson. His stances, particularly on LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive freedom, and gun control, have raised eyebrows across the nation. Johnson, hailing from Louisiana, is no stranger to political observers in his home state, where he has long been associated with far-right ideologies.
Stephanie Grace, a political columnist for Louisiana newspapers The Times-Picayune and The Advocate, describes Johnson as someone who articulates his far-right views in a seemingly reasonable and legalistic manner. Despite his amiable demeanor and ability to engage with those who disagree with him, his positions remain extreme, raising concerns within the LGBTQ+ community and advocates for reproductive rights.
Before entering politics, Johnson worked as an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization dedicated to promoting conservative causes, including opposition to LGBTQ+ equality and abortion rights. He wrote editorials opposing marriage equality and advocating for the criminalization of gay sex, using derogatory language to describe LGBTQ+ individuals. Johnson’s past statements on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ issues have been highly controversial.
During his time in the Louisiana House, Johnson introduced a controversial “license to discriminate” bill that would have allowed businesses and professionals with religious objections to deny goods and services to same-sex couples. Although the bill gained prominence, it ultimately did not pass, even in a conservative legislature.
In his current role as U.S. House Speaker, Johnson continues to push his anti-LGBTQ+ agenda by introducing legislation inspired by Florida’s “don’t say gay” law and leading a hearing on banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors. His elevation to speaker has drawn criticism from LGBTQ+ advocates who view it as an endorsement of his divisive views.
Johnson’s extreme positions extend beyond LGBTQ+ issues, as he has proposed nationwide abortion restrictions and advocated for punishing doctors who perform abortions with “hard labor.” He has also supported loosening gun regulations, which has faced criticism in the wake of recent mass shootings.
As Johnson takes on his new role as speaker, questions arise about how his extreme positions will impact his ability to work pragmatically and collaborate across party lines. His lack of experience relative to past speakers adds an additional layer of uncertainty. LGBTQ+ organizations and progressive groups are actively working to inform voters about Johnson’s record and the potential consequences of his leadership, particularly in swing districts.
David Armstead, a Louisiana resident on the Human Rights Campaign’s Board of Governors, emphasizes the importance of recognizing individuals like Mike Johnson, whose views are perceived as harmful. As the 2024 election approaches, efforts are underway to raise awareness and mobilize voters to make informed choices regarding far-right politicians like Johnson.