Arizona state Senator Steve Gallardo (D-Phoenix) announced on Wednesday that he is coming out as a gay man.
According to AZCentral.com, Gallardo said that his decision was chiefly motivated by the state's brief flirtation with Senate Bill 1062 -- a pro-discriminatory "turn away the gays" law that would allow businesses to decline to serve customers so long as the denial was grounded in a "sincerely held religious belief."
“Two weeks ago was a difference, Feb. 19 was an actual game changer,” said at a morning press conference.
Gallardo, 44, told reporters that he spent several days contemplating the decision to publicly disclose what his friends and family have long known.
“I am gay, I’m a Latino, I’m a state senator and it’s OK,” he said Wednesday.
The senator is the chamber's Minority Whip and he has been highly critical of the Republican majority in the past. He vociferously opposed SB 1062, which was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) out of fear of economic damage to the state. He has also fought to overturn SB 1070, the state's notorious "papers, please' law aimed at Latino immigrants.
Gallardo was elected to the state Senate in 2010 and re-elected in 2012. He served three terms in the state House and is one of the three announced candidates who are vying for the U.S. Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Ed Pastor (D).
The Arizona state legislature has two other openly LGBT members, Sen. Robert Meza (D-Phoenix) and Rep. Demion Clinco (D-Tucson).
(Image of Sen. Steve Gallardo via Facebook.com]