After Sesame Street announced that gay actor Billy Porter will make a guest appearance on the long-running children’s show, an Arkansas state Republican senator has suggested funding should be cut.
Accompanying the announcement, Sesame Street posted a picture of Porter in his famous tuxedo-gown in front of 123 Sesame Street.
The senator, Jason Rapert, who already announced his 2022 campaign for Arkansas Lt. Governor, posted to Facebook that Porter’s appearance on the show is part of the “radical LGBTQ agenda” and suggested that public funding for the show should be cut, in a post found by the Arkansas Times.
In the comments on the post, Rapert said that he wants to cut funding from AETN, Arkansas’s PBS affiliate.
“I can pass a bill to cut off all funding for the rebroadcast of PBS programming through AETN and also stop all funding for AETN altogether if necessary,” he wrote.
Rapert claimed he is “a defender and champion for” public broadcasting, but that allowing a gay man in a dress on a children’s TV show is a step too far.
“However, if they [AETN] choose to allow our state taxpayer funded platform to be politicized in this way, they are going to have to make a decision about who they really serve,” he wrote.
In a separate Facebook post, Rapert claimed to have signed a petition to stop Porter from appearing on Sesame Street, a petition started by Canadian right-wing website Lifesite News that claims to have over 38,000 signatures.
A commenter asked Rapert if Jesus would “approve of your judgment and intolerance?”
Rapert said: “You are totally amiss and you know it. Christians do not support anti-Biblical behaviour. The Bible is clear on certain sins — including homosexuality.”
He said that Jesus “never endorsed homosexual behaviour” and then brought up Sodom and Gomorrah.
“Speaking the truth is not hatred,” Rapert concluded. “If you oppose the Bible, you are not a sincere Christian.”
This isn’t the first time a Republican has suggested cutting funding for public broadcasting because of LGBTQ themes. Last year, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) called on Congress to de-fund the network when a male character on the children’s cartoon Arthur married another male character.