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Gay Rep. Mark Pocan on Anti-LGBTQ+ House Speaker Mike Johnson and Republican Leadership

New House Speaker Mike Johnson Gay Equality Caucus Chair Mark Pocan
Images: Facebook @SpeakerJohnson @repmarkpocan

Rep. Mark Pocan compares the GOP leadership transition to musical chairs, while questioning Speaker Mike Johnson's dedication to serving everyone.


Out Congressional Equality Caucus chair Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin has voiced concerns with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, and his record of anti-LGBTQ+ stances and comments.

Regarding Johnson’s past remarks, like saying homosexuality caused the fall of the Roman Empire, Pocan said Johnson embodied “some of the most extreme elements of the Republican caucus.”

Pocan said, "Most troubling is that one of the areas he’s the most extreme on is around LGBTQI+ equality, and I think we’re waiting to see how he is going to govern his title, the Speaker of the House, which means all members of the House of Representatives, or is he going to govern his extreme positions of the past?”

He added, “Clearly, that would be of concern.”

Related: Speaker Mike Johnson Roundly Condemned by LGBTQ+ Groups, Biden Campaign, and Democrats

Pocan referred to a recent hearing Johnson led, titled “The Dangers and Due Process Violations of ‘Gender-Affirming Care’ for Children.” During this July hearing, testimonies were heard from a range of individuals, including a former college athlete uneasy with a transgender teammate’s participation, an anti-LGBTQ+ advocate from a conservative interest group, a Federalist Society member, and a person who had detransitioned after accessing gender-affirming care, now opposing such care for youth. The lineup ignited ire among Democrats, who denounced the hearing as a sham amidst their growing frustration with Republican endeavors to axe funding from bills aiding the LGBTQ+ community.

“We know where his so-called values are, right? They’re anti-equality to the core,” Pocan said. He added that it was Johnson who had introduced a national "don’t say gay" bill.

The gay lawmaker said that the difficulty in finding a new speaker after the sacking of Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the role underscored Republicans' lack of seriousness when it comes to running the House. “There’s a reason why we call it the Chaos Caucus...that’s how they’re governing,” he said.

“So really it just showed the real inability for them to govern in general," Pocan explained. "But specifically, now we’re just watching and trying to see if there will be any turn of that strategy. And so far, it doesn’t appear that way.”

On averting a government shutdown and the unfolding appropriations saga, Pocan shared a cautious optimism.

“I think the November 17th date is fairly safe,” he said. “We think there’ll be an extension either to mid-January or mid-April.”

Pocan noted that whether it was the deposed former Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, or the new speaker, the same type of attacks on LGBTQ+ and other rights are expected from the GOP leadership.

“We look at it as it’s the same menu, a different waiter, and Mike Johnson just happens to be the person who the chair was left when the music stopped.”

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