HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania state lawmaker announced Tuesday that he is gay amid a push by legislators to advance a hate crime bill that includes protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
At a news conference to promote the legislation, State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Pittsburgh), who drafted the Senate version of the bill, took the opportunity to publicly come out as gay, reports WPVI-TV.
“Hundreds of people know I’m gay. I just never made an official declaration. I never felt I had to wear a billboard on my forehead. But I’m gay. Get over it. I love it. It’s a great life,” Ferlo said.
Ferlo becomes the the first sitting Pennsylvania state senator who is openly gay, and the third state lawmaker.
He was joined by Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia), who is also openly gay, and State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) at a rally shortly after sending a letter to the judiciary committee, calling for the speedy passage of the bill in light of the Sept. 11 attack on a gay couple.
Senate Bill 42 and House Bill 177 would expand Pennsylvania’s hate crime law to include protections for LGBT citizens.
State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia), sponsor of the House version, told Philly.com that it’s been a year-and-a-half since he introduced the bill, “and the Republican leadership has shown no willingness to move any piece of legislation that touches sexual orientation.”