Johnson Withdraws from Tea Party Event Due to Differences With Anti-Gay Marriage Speaker

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Governor Johnson’s communications director, Joe Hunter, emailed IREHR this afternoon, “Having seen your article re the upcoming ‘Tea Party’ event in Boston, I wanted to let you know that Governor Johnson will NOT be attending.  With all due respect to the organizers and their right to invite whomever they wish, he has decided that participating would not be consistent with his strong support for marriage equality and gay rights.”

Lively is not just opposed to gay marriage, he is part of the “ex-gay movement” and believes that “gays” are the “agents of America’s moral decline”.

23 thoughts on “Johnson Withdraws from Tea Party Event Due to Differences With Anti-Gay Marriage Speaker

  1. Matt Cholko

    I’m with GJ on this. But, just to examine the other side – wouldn’t it make sense to show up and give a speech outlining out a pro-gay marriage postion? This could offset some of the damage done by the “real douche.”

  2. Dan Ciammaichella

    Now if Johnson would distance himself from other wackos like Wayne Allyn Root, normal folk might consider him a viable alternative to the two major party hack presidential candidates.

  3. Jill Pyeatt

    Although delevering a counter message would also have been a good idea, withdrawing was an excellent thing to do. Mr. Johnson just gained some respect from me.

  4. Trent Hill Post author

    Dan, c’mon, lets not put Wayne Root in the same ballpark with Scott Lively.

  5. Thomas L. Knapp

    Might want to cut Johnson some slack here on “judgment call” grounds.

    If the anti-family, anti-freedom guy was just one of many speakers, AND his message was not a central theme of the rally, AND the attendees were likely to be receptive to Johnson’s message, sure, he might go ahead and attend.

    But if this guy was more or less the keynote, and the rally was likely to focus on the anti-gay stuff, and the crowd itself was unlikely to be responsive to a counter-message, then Johnson speaking at the rally would gain him nothing, and might get him some counter-productive “Johnson spoke at an anti-family, anti-freedom rally” publicity.

    My guess is that Johnson evaluated it as likely to shape up the latter or close, or at least close enough that his best message move was to get some media along the lines of “Johnson Bucks Out of Bigots’ Bash.”

    And I bet he gets more, and more positive, attention for doing that than he would have had he attended.

  6. Steve M

    Scott Lively has called for the criminalization of “the public advocacy of homosexuality”. Not just that homosexuality be criminalized but that advocating on behalf of homosexuality be criminalized. A direct attack on first amendment rights. Any gathering where Scott Lively would be welcome, would be an event I would only show up at with a counter protest group and make every effort to shout him and his supporters down.

    That a political candidate would not want to speak at such an event is probably smart.

  7. Matt Cholko

    TK said – “And I bet he gets more, and more positive, attention for doing that than he would have had he attended.”

    I am quite sure this is correct, as nobody would have noticed if he had just gone as planned. This move does get some positive press, at the very least it gets coverage at IPR and his Libertarian base eats it up.

  8. Wes Wagner

    I am going to fall on the side of “not being seen at an event with this type of activity going on” as politically wise.

  9. Steven Berson

    Personally I’d say this is a good move by GJ and getting publicity generated from the walkout makes it even better.

  10. Trent Hill Post author

    He should use it as a boosting point, too. When speaking to marriage-equality groups, the ACLU, or liberal pressure groups–trot this little event out.

  11. paulie

    I thought Johnson spoke in Worcester, the anti-gay speaker was in Boston, and both events already took place…was this something different?

  12. Trent Hill Post author

    Yergh. I guess so. I didn’t check dates as closely as I should’ve.

    Still, now it’s documented for posterity.

  13. Andy

    “Matt Cholko says:
    April 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm
    I’m with GJ on this. But, just to examine the other side – wouldn’t it make sense to show up and give a speech outlining out a pro-gay marriage postion? This could offset some of the damage done by the ‘real douche.'”

    I was thinking the same thing. I’m not really trying to be critical of Johnson here, but he could have spoken at the event and said something like, “The TEA Party Movement is supposed to be about less government. I’m for less government on economic issues, and since I’m consistent, I also believe that the government should stay out of people’s bedrooms and personal relationships. You can’t really be for smaller government if you advocate that the government involve itself in people’s personal lives. Gays getting married doesn’t violate anyone’s rights. I want less government, not a nanny state. It is none of the government’s business or anyone else’s business what voluntary relationships adults form. I want the government out of people’s wallets and out of their bedrooms. If anyone here wants to boo me then fine, but if you are serious about reducing the size of government, and if you recognize that civil liberties are just as important as economic freedom, then please visit my website ( or whatever it is), and remember to vote Libertarian this November.”

  14. Andy

    “Dennis says:
    April 24, 2012 at 12:11 am
    @ Andy,

    Assuming that the audience would even have listened to that.”

    I’d bet that at least some people in the audience would have listened to it. Those that wouldn’t and would boo him for saying that are not going to be libertarians anyway, so the heck with them.

  15. Joe Buchman

    Withdrawing from this event, IMO, was the best way of sending a strong counter message!

  16. JT

    Knapp: “Might want to cut Johnson some slack here on “judgment call” grounds.”

    I agree. Had he gone & denounced the anti-gay speaker(s), that would’ve been good. His simply pulling out is good also. No blemish on him one way or the other, IMO.

  17. zapper

    This was a good call.

    There is no reason to show up at an event sponsored and attended by such loonies.

    Johnson might have ended up being booed, shouted down and hounded off the stage. That would be embarrassing, demoralizing and a waste of valuable time, energy and money.

    This decision generates positive spin and coverage.

    It’s a win with no downside.

  18. Trent Hill Post author

    Yeah, I’ve not seen anyone say this but–he’d have to spend money on transportation, lodgings, and food for him and at least one staffer in order to speak to a crowd that clearly isn’t going to hear him anyway.

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