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Ariz. lawmaker comes out: ‘I am gay, I’m a Latino, I’m a state senator and it’s OK’

Ariz. lawmaker comes out: ‘I am gay, I’m a Latino, I’m a state senator and it’s OK’
Ross D. Franklin, APSteve Gallardo
Ross D. Franklin, AP
Steve Gallardo

PHOENIX — Arizona state Sen. Steve Gallardo of Phoenix has come out as gay, becoming the third openly gay lawmaker in the Arizona state legislature.

Just a little more than a week after he delivered a rousing speech to activists protesting against an anti-gay religious freedom bill, Gallardo told a handful of reporters gathered at the state capitol on Wednesday that it’s time to announce his sexual orientation.

“I am gay, I’m a Latino, I’m a state senator and it’s OK,” he said.

Gallardo, 45, said the furor over Senate Bill 1062 prompted his decision to go public.

“In the middle of that discussion, it dawned on me that this bill affects me directly, and seeing all the people come to the Capitol protesting and rallying around this bill solidified my thought and that it’s time for me to stand up and say, ‘This is who I am,'” he said.

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Gallardo said he also wants to send a message to members of the LGBT community who struggle with coming out as gay. He said he came out to his friends when he was about 25 years old and to his family of devout Catholics about five years later.

The Phoenix Democrat is running for the open U.S. House seat being vacated by the retirement of U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor.

Gallardo, the Senate’s minority whip, said he intends to serve out the rest of the legislative session and has no plans, at this point, to resign as he pursues the congressional seat.

His announcement brings to three the number of openly gay members of the state Legislature, along with Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix and Rep. Demion Clinco, D-Tucson.

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