A day after crying while watching Pope Francis speak, Republican House Speaker John Boehner broke down again while announcing today that he would leave office in late October to avoid putting his members and the country through a fight over congressional leadership.
Boehner denied in a news conference that his decision to leave office is a religious epiphany directly related to the pope's visit, but the speaker, who is a practicing Catholic, said he made the decision after finishing his daily prayers. And he got very emotional while recounting how he'd broke down in tears on Thursday when the pope asked Boehner to pray for him. He leaves a long record of fighting against LGBT interests.
Boehner supported the now-defunct Defense of Marriage Act, which forbade the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages, and called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would provide discrimination protection for LGBT workers, "unnecessary." He repeatedly refused to bring ENDA to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, despite the support of a majority of Americans for the protections the bill sought to provide, and the legislation's historic, bipartisan passage in the Senate in 2013.
Despite his conservative attitudes toward LGBT equality, the Ohio Republican had difficulty unifying his party's increasingly conservative members and was facing pressure to avoid another government shutdown, according to The New York Times.
In a powerful illustration of the right-wing's opinion of Boehner, attendees at the annual Values Voter Summit held by the Family Research Council -- which is labeled as an antigay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- erupted in prolonged cheers when Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio announced Boehner's resignation during a speech at the conference in Washington, D.C., this morning.
As The New Civil Rights Movement noted, "the crowd stood, applauded, and screamed with glee, demonstrating the sheer hatred they have for the Ohio congressman who often stood in between their extremist agenda and preserving the workings of Congress."
In recent weeks, Boehner's fellow Republicans, who currently hold a majority in Congress, had pushed the speaker to advance a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood (an effort blocked by Senate Democrats on Thursday), and several were trying to force Boehner to resign from office, reports the Times.
Watch Boehner's resignation being cheered at the conference in video below.