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In 2015, I was interviewed about then State Representative, now Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. I told the reporter then that I thought Mike Johnson was a rising star in the conservative movement and that he was sincere, intelligent, and terrifying. I still believe those things to be true. I am not surprised that Representative Johnson was able to secure the votes he needed to be named Speaker of the House. He is a gifted politician.
I was a leader with Equality Louisiana and Louisiana Progress in 2015 when Representative Johnson was attempting to pass his misleadingly named Marriage and Conscience Act through the Louisiana Legislature. While his attempt that year was ultimately unsuccessful, it did provide me with a unique opportunity to learn who he was, his approach to politics, and to develop a friendly professional relationship with him. He was the most charismatic and genuine conservative elected official I had ever interacted with. We vehemently disagreed on policy. He believed that with enough time he could convince people that his policies were most harmful to that it was in their best interests to support him and his legislation. Throughout the first part of 2015 we spoke frequently, at times twice a day, on the phone and he would routinely tell me that I was his brother in Christ and that he loved me. I believe that he meant what he said which makes him even more dangerous.
It would be a mistake to underestimate him. He has shown a willingness to use his charm, polite demeanor, and quick mind to push conservative policies and propaganda that are dangerous, and possibly deadly, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. He has built his career on court cases, policies, and legislation that target lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. His opposition to LGBT rights and abortion access is an intrinsic part of who he is and his political career. I may be naïve, but what surprised me was his decision to challenge the election of President Biden. I believe the Speaker was far too intelligent to believe the election was stolen. He is an accomplished attorney and had to understand that his actions in support of President Trump were a threat to democracy. That was when I had to confront the fact that he was willing to compromise his values for political expediency which makes him even more worrying in a position as powerful as the Speaker of the House.
At a time when LGBT people are already under constant political attack in many communities and states it is my greatest hope that the newly elected Speaker of the House will prioritize meeting the real needs of our nation and the world and not use his power and influence to punish people who, just like everyone else, deserve to live safely with dignity.