"Joe Harding" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Author of “Don’t Say Gay” Bill is Going to Prison for Stealing COVID-19 Funds

The former Florida state lawmaker who authored the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law will go to prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID-19 funds.

Republican Joe Harding will serve four months in prison and two years of supervised release for fraudulently obtaining $150,000 in COVID-19 funds, according to LGBTQ Nation. Harding resigned from his position on the Florida House of Representatives last year after a federal grand jury indicted him on felony wire fraud, laundering charges, and making false statements.

Harding defrauded the Small Business Administration during the height of the pandemic by completing an Economic Injury Disaster Laon application for two dormant businesses, then transferred the money to his bank account, a third-party business, and paid off his credit card debt.

He pleaded guilty to the charges in March. Harding tweeted in June that he had paid back the loan in full.

“Now all I can do moving forward is continue to tell the truth, apologize to all of those I have hurt and let down, and then show the world that with God all things are possible.”

Harding authored the “Parental Rights in Education Act,” a law initially banning any instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in early elementary school, through third grade. The law was later expanded to all grade levels. Not only has the law impacted queer Floridians, but it has also led to a nationwide influx of similar bills. According to the Movement Advancement Project, similar laws have been passed in six other states.

In the midst of the bill’s passage, Harding tweeted that opponents of the bill want to “sexualize your six-year-olds and lie to you.”