The tally of openly gay lawmakers in the Pennsylvania General Assembly just went up to three.
Outgoing Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) publicly came out during a press conference on adding protections for LGBT Pennsylvanians under the state’s current law against hate crimes.
Ferlo spoke for five minutes about a proposal he sponsors to amend the law. Then he asked the audience to allow him a “personal comment.” He paused.
“…I am gay,” said Ferlo.
“Hundreds of people know I’m gay, I just never made it 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.”
The announcement makes Ferlo the Pa. Senate’s first openly gay member and the Legislature’s third. Ferlo has two months left in his term. He is not running for reelection.
After Ferlo’s speech, which came as a surprise even to his communications director, he tried to explain why he came out publicly on Tuesday.
“I don’t feel a need to propagate my individual preference… it’s like, not a big deal to me,” said Ferlo. He hastened to point to his career of supporting LGBT causes. “I’ve always marched, I’ve always been an advocate… I’m not some closeted Republican or some half-assed Democrat who’s been hiding something. I’ve been out front on every issue.”
This story was originally published by NewsWorks content partner, WITF.