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.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Get used to it. There’s a million of us in this state, and we deserve the same rights and the same protections as everybody else.”
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.”