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HomePoliticsHouse Speaker Mike Johnson collaborated with an organization advocating anti-gay conversion therapy...

House Speaker Mike Johnson collaborated with an organization advocating anti-gay conversion therapy prior to his political career

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CNN – Speaker of the House Mike Johnson collaborated closely with a group in the mid-to-late 2000s that supported “conversion therapy,” a discredited practice that claimed to be able to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian individuals. Before his political career, Johnson, who was a lawyer, provided legal advice to an organization called Exodus International and partnered with the group to organize an annual anti-gay event for teenagers, according to a CNN KFile review. Founded in 1976, Exodus International was a leading organization in the “ex-gay” movement, which aimed to make gay individuals straight through religious and counseling methods. However, conversion therapy is widely condemned by major medical institutions and has been shown to be harmful to LGBTQ individuals. During this time, Johnson worked as an attorney for the socially conservative legal advocacy group, Alliance Defense Fund (now known as the Alliance Defending Freedom). Johnson and his group collaborated with Exodus from 2006 to 2010. They worked on an event called the “Day of Truth,” which was a counterprotest to the “Day of Silence” that aimed to raise awareness about bullying faced by LGBTQ youth. The Day of Truth sought to distribute information about what Johnson referred to as the “dangerous” gay lifestyle. Johnson frequently made disparaging remarks about homosexuality in various media appearances. He advocated for the criminalization of gay sex and even partially blamed it for the fall of the Roman Empire. Johnson’s office did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on his work with Exodus. Exodus International joined ADF’s Day of Truth event in 2006, and the groups collaborated on promotional material for the event. Videos released by Exodus and ADF on their separate Day of Truth website featured testimonials from individuals claiming to be “former-homosexuals” and “former lesbians.” The website also featured a FAQ on homosexuality provided by Exodus and sold t-shirts with the slogan, “the Truth cannot be silenced.” Johnson promoted the event extensively through media appearances, citing a case of a teen who was suspended for wearing a shirt condemning homosexuality to school after the Day of Silence. The case was dismissed in court. Critics of ADF and Exodus at the time argued that the event was harmful to vulnerable LGBTQ youth. Ties between Exodus and ADF went beyond the Day of Truth event, with ADF promoting Exodus International in its brochures and providing legal advice to the organization and its “member ministries.” Exodus International stopped sponsoring the Day of Truth event in 2010, deeming it adversarial and counterproductive.

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