Arizona State Senator Steve Gallardo came out publicly on Wednesday (5 March) in the wake of the furor over a vetoed bill that sought to make it legal for businesses to discriminate LGBTI people.
‘I am gay, I’m Latino and I’m a senator and it’s OK,’ Gallardo said at a news conference.
Gallardo, 45, had just announced last week his plans to run for congress. He is currently serving his second term in the senate after three terms in the state’s House of Representatives.
He becomes the third openly gay member of the Arizona Legislature along with fellow Senator Robert Meza and Representative Demion Clinco.
‘For years I served as the only openly gay Senator in Arizona. I congratulate @Steve_Gallardo on his decision to join me in the open,’ Meza tweeted.
The reason for Gallardo going public?
It was when the Senate passed SB 1062 which would have allowed discrimination based on religious beliefs. Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill which had caused a national uproar.
‘Two weeks ago was a difference, Feb. 19 was an actual game changer,’ Gallardo said of the day the Senate passed the bill.
‘After I stood up on the floor and argued against 1062, as I’ve done on many bills before, I sat down and said, "Wow. This bill affects me. It affects me directly."’
Gallardo came out to himself in his 20s and to his family in his early 30s. He reflected on how homosexuality is rarely spoken of in Latino families – even if family members know someone is gay.