In response to Arizona’s recently vetoed anti-gay bill, Arizona State Senator Steve Gallardo decided to come out publicly on Wednesday, March 5.
The vetoed Senate Bill 1062 was written under what many deemed a veiled pretense of “religious freedom,” that actually sought to allow businesses to legally discriminate against LGBT people based on a “sincerely held religious belief.”
Governor Jan Brewer eventually vetoed the bill after days of protests. There was also considerable criticism from the NFL, which is planning to hold the 2016 Super Bowl in Arizona.
According to Gallardo, he decided to come out partly due to the controversy of the Senate Bill. He added that his decision had nothing to do with his political future.
At the news conference on Wednesday, he said, “I am gay, I’m Latino, and I’m a senator, and it’s OK.”
Speaking of the bill, he said, “This bill allows businesses to say to me and my friends that we can’t be served in certain restaurants. I don’t know why the Legislature was doing this. I should come out, I should say something, I should share the personal side of my life that I don’t really share.”
This announcement has made him the third openly gay member of the Arizona Legislature, alongside Senator Robert Meza and Representative Demion Clinco.
Previously Gallardo has not made gay rights a prominent issue within his politics, but instead focused on immigration rights.
He told the associated press that though his friends and family have known for a long time, he wished to send a message to fellow members of the gay community who struggle with their sexuality.
Gallardo’s decision to come out follows his recent announcement that he intends to run for Congress. Currently, he is in his second term in the Senate after three terms in the state’s House of Representatives.