Roger Gannam on Steve Bannon split screen

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Ron DeSantis chooses anti-LGBTQ lawyer for Florida judgeship

Roger Gannam has spent almost a decade at anti-LGBTQ group Liberty Counsel defending conversion therapy, attacking transgender people as “not permanent,” and accusing LGBTQ people of trying to “abolish marriage"

On August 10, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his appointment of anti-LGBTQ attorney Roger Gannam to a judgeship on Florida’s Sixth District Court of Appeal. Gannam has spent almost a decade at the extreme anti-LGBTQ group Liberty Counsel, largely known for advocating for conversion therapy and representing former Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of the Obergefell decision. 

While at Liberty Counsel, where he has worked as assistant vice president of legal affairs among other positions, Gannam frequently appeared in right-wing media — including on Fox News and Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast — to promote the anti-LGBTQ group’s lawsuits.

  • Liberty Counsel has advocated for conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth and consistently compared LGBTQ adults to pedophiles

  • Liberty Counsel has advocated for conversion therapy and fought state bans on the practice across the country, including in Florida. Liberty Counsel has advocated against state bans on the discredited and damaging practice, with founder and chairman Mat Staver telling The Guardian in 2016 that the bans were “harmful for the country.” Liberty Counsel has filed lawsuits challenging bans on conversion therapy in Florida and Maryland and also submitted testimony or sent letters urging lawmakers to oppose such legislation in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and California. Gannam, along with Staver, has frequently utilized right-wing evangelical media to amplify and defend the organization’s fight against conversion therapy protections.

  • On a 2018 episode of Liberty Counsel’s podcast, Staver outlined the group’s support for conversion therapy and said that trans youth have high rates of suicide because they’re defying God. During the interview, Liberty Counsel’s Holly Meade falsely claimed that conversation therapy is “just talk therapy. There’s no weird — there’s no electrodes going on or anything like that. It’s just helping them talk through what is the root cause.”

  • For years, Staver and Liberty Counsel have smeared LGBTQ people by baselessly associating them with pedophiles. Staver has repeatedly compared LGBTQ people to pedophiles, and in 2019, he falsely claimed that the Equality Act — a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing civil rights nondiscrimination protections — would “open the door to pedophilia.” In 2015, Staver attacked the decision by the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on gay Scout leaders, with Staver declaring that the organization will now become a “playground for pedophiles.” The following year, Staver claimed that “pedophiles” were behind trans-inclusive bathroom policies.

  • Since 2015, Gannam has repeatedly appeared on Fox News to promote Liberty Counsel’s cases

  • Gannam appeared on Fox & Friends First to tout a Liberty Counsel lawsuit against Loudoun County Public Schools, claiming “religious discrimination.” Liberty Counsel brought the case after it was alleged that the school district had directed a teacher to remove a Bible verse from her email signature block. [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 4/12/23]

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    Citation From the April 12, 2023, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends First

  • Gannam appeared on Fox News @ Night to discuss Liberty Counsel’s case related to the city of Boston’s refusal to fly a Christian flag over city hall. During the interview, Gannam accused Boston of “unconstitutional discrimination against the Christian viewpoint of our client.” Liberty Counsel eventually settled the case with the city. [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 6/23/21]

  • Gannam appeared on Fox & Friends First to discuss an appeals court ruling in favor of Liberty Counsel’s client, a Kentucky church, holding drive-in services during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gannam was introduced with his official Liberty Counsel title, and an on-screen chyron under his name saying “Protecting religious freedoms during the pandemic.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 5/4/20]

  • Gannam appeared on Fox News’ Hannity in 2015 while serving as Kim Davis’ attorney at Liberty Counsel. The legal group represented Davis when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision. During the interview, Gannam agreed with Hannity that putting Davis in jail is “criminalizing Christianity.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/8/15]

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    Citation From the September 8, 2015, edition of Fox News' Hannity

  • In other right-wing media interviews, Gannam promoted Liberty Counsel, attacked LGBTQ equality under the guise of religious freedom, and spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines

  • Gannam appeared on disgraced Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in May 2023 and the two promoted Liberty Counsel. During the interview about a Florida case in which Liberty Counsel claimed a local school district discriminated against Christian students, Bannon prompted Gannam to promote the organization’s legal services and directed the audience to its website. Bannon also praised Liberty Counsel and declared that its work “is part of the bigger battle.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 5/19/23]

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    Citation From the May 19, 2023, edition of Real America's Voice's War Room

  • Gannam has repeatedly promoted Liberty Counsel’s lawsuits on extreme anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council’s radio show Washington Watch. During an interview in June — the latest of at least six appearances on the show since 2021 — Gannam attacked the notion of government buildings flying LGBTQ Pride flags. [Family Research Council, Washington Watch, 6/15/23]

  • In a 2015 podcast interview, Gannam urged states to “disregard” the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. He said that we cannot “accept the notion that the U.S. Supreme Court is the law of the land as opposed to the Constitution” and encouraged lawmakers to pass laws to “chip away at” the decision. He further claimed that “this LGBT revolution … isn't simply to get marriage licenses or to get married. Their goal is to abolish marriage. Their goal is to destroy the institution because it stands in the way of total acceptance — of coerced acceptance of their relationship as valid and legitimate and good. Marriage is an obstacle for them, and they want to get rid of it. They don't want to join in.” [Community Digital News Hour, Standing at Freedom's Gate with Kevin Fobbs, 9/16/15]

  • In an interview on right-wing podcast Caffeinated Thoughts, Gannam attacked inclusion of transgender members in the military as “a social experiment” and said that accepting their identity is “affirm[ing] the delusion.” Gannam further claimed that trans people are “not permanent,” saying, “Being transgender is something a person claims for the moment, so to speak. But it's not permanent. And we shouldn't treat it like that.” He claimed that repealing “Don't Ask Don’t Tell” — which allowed military members to serve openly — had “opened the floodgate,” and he and the host criticized the notion of women serving in combat roles. [Caffeinated Thoughts, 8/12/17]

  • On right-wing streaming show Catching Fire News, Gannam dismissed the separation of church and state. Gannam asserted that “this wall of separation” between church and state “is not a constitutional principle,” citing a Christian nationalist talking point to make his argument. Gannam claimed that the framers meant that “the state shouldn't be interfering in the affairs of the church, not the other way around. … So this wall of separation is not a constitutional principle, and thankfully, the court has gone away from that.” [Catching Fire News, 7/22/22]

  • On former One America News host Graham Ledger’s far-right show, Gannam agreed with Ledger that vaccine mandates are out of the “Marxist playbook” and said that COVID-19 vaccines are “experimental.” Discussing potential COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Gannam urged the audience to resist “unconstitutional mandates” and said that President Joe Biden’s “worldview … is to control. He's not a liberty-minded president. He wants to control us.” Gannam said that Liberty Counsel is “trying to wake people up.” (At the time of the September 2021 interview, one COVID-19 vaccine had been approved and it was not experimental.) [The Ledger Report with Graham Ledger, 9/10/21]

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    Citation From the September 9, 2021, edition of The Ledger Report with Graham Ledger 

  • On the LindellTV show The Absolute Truth with Emerald Robinson, Gannam echoed right-wing media talking points about a proposed program from the Department of Homeland Security to crack down on misinformation. Gannam referred to the since-halted Disinformation Governance Board as a “ministry of truth,” echoing right-wing media talking points. At another point in the interview, Gannam celebrated a potential overturning of the legal right to an abortion, saying, “We'll be very thankful that Roe v Wade is gone.” [LindellTV, The Absolute Truth with Emerald Robinson, 5/3/22]