An anti-LGBTQ Arkansas Republican who called his state’s mask mandate “draconian” has been hospitalized with a coronavirus infection.
State Sen. Jason Rapert (R), who proposed defunding PBS over an episode of Sesame Street in which out actor Billy Porter appeared, calling it part of “the radical LGBTQ agenda,” has been hospitalized for pneumonia and tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, according to an announcement posted to his Facebook account.
“This is a difficult time for my family, but we know that God is with us always,” Rapert said. “We’re sincerely grateful for the many prayers of love and support that have been expressed on our behalf.”
Despite claiming in a Facebook post that “we have all been doing our best to wear a mask,” the senator was recently seen attending church without a mask. He also condemned the governor’s mask mandate “on principle.”
His record on mask use during the pandemic has been a mixed bag at best. His announcement said he and his family have followed protocol, but he’s decried his own state’s “draconian measures” to fight the pandemic on social media as originating from “liberal hacks” who are “spreading fear.”
“There is no question that Covid19 is serious and can be very deadly for those with underlying conditions and the elderly,” he wrote in a Facebook post about Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) mask mandate. “But the fact is 99% of our nation has not been afflicted and this pandemic is no worse statistically than other severe outbreaks we have endured without draconian measures isolating the healthy and shutting down our entire economy.”
Rapert, who is running to be lieutenant governor, adamantly condemned the PBS before the Sesame Street episode with Billy Porter had even aired this year, saying, “Christians do not support anti-Biblical behavior. The Bible is clear on certain sins — including homosexuality.”
In 2017, Rapert compared LGBTQ activists to Nazis, and then raised funds based on the upset responses he received.
“The LGBT activists who behave as Nazis are trying to ruin anyone who ‘disagrees’ with them” he wrote. “Simply believing in the Bible is offensive to these activists. They can’t stand it if you disagree. They demand full compliance with their diminished morality. They clearly behave just like the ‘brown shirts’ and ‘SS’ troops that Nazis used to destroy Jews and anyone who disagreed with the Nazi ideology.”
Rapert has been hospitalized with pneumonia and tested positive for COVID after being admitted.