Speaker of the House Mike Johnson once appeared to blame the fall of the Roman Empire on same-sex relations, a recently resurfaced audio clip shows.
“Many historians, those who are objective, would look back and recognize and give some credit to the fall of Rome to, not only the deprivation of the society and the loss of morals, but also to the rampant homosexual behavior that was condoned by the society,” Johnson told a radio host in 2008.
The clip was part of an investigative report by CNN’s KFile that looked into the Louisiana Republican’s past links with prominent anti-LGBTQ groups.
Johnson “closely collaborated” with a now-defunct group that promoted so-called LGBTQ “conversion therapy,” the widely debunked practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through prayer, counseling, or other means.
The group, Exodus International, was the highly controversial “ex-gay” organization featured in Netflix’s documentary “Pray Away.” It shut down after 37 years in 2013, when its then-president, Alan Chambers, issued an apology for causing “pain and hurt” to the LGBTQ community.
From 2006 to 2010, while Johnson was an attorney for the conservative legal advocacy group Alliance Defense Fund, known today as Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), he collaborated with Exodus International on an event known as a “Day of Truth.”
The event was created as a counter-protest to a “Day of Silence,” a student-led demonstration designed to spread awareness about the harassment and bullying of LGBTQ youth.
“Our race, the size of our feet, the color of our eyes, these are things we’re born with and we cannot change,” Johnson said in 2008 while promoting the event. “What these adult advocacy groups like the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network are promoting is a type of behavior. Homosexual behavior is something you do, it’s not something that you are,” he said in an audio clip obtained by CNN.
The four-term congressman — who became the second in line to succeed the U.S. president after the ousting of Kevin McCarthy on Oct. 3 — has also previously said same-sex relations were “inherently unnatural” and “harmful.”
When asked about his past anti-LGBTQ remarks while working for the ADF, which is designated as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to its decades-long work against LGBTQ rights,” Johnson said he didn’t “even remember some of them.”