Pa. Senator Jim Ferlo, of Alleghany County in Pittsburgh, admitted he was gay at a news conference in Harrisburg in regards to legislation that would expand his state’s hate crime law to include attacks based on the premise of sexuality and gender identity.
Ferlo is now the first openly gay member in the Pa. Senate and the third state lawmaker overall, alongside Mike Fleck and Brian Sims.
Ferlo’s term ends at the end of November and after 12 years he is not running for re-election.
Instead of using the proclamation of his sexuality to shock anybody or make an emotional appeal for the legislation, Ferlo casually said, “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.”
Related Resources from B2C
» Free Webcast: Blogging in the Age of Modern Marketers
The push for the legislation Ferlo drafted follows an assault that happened earlier this month in Philadelphia which left a gay couple seriously injured. Under current legislation, the two men and women who attacked the couple can’t be charged with a hate crime. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the state law “needs to change, and change very quickly,” to protect innocent people from crimes related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Though Ferlo has never denied being gay or felt it was something to hide, he apologized for not coming out sooner. He said he was doing it now because “many people do not report hate crimes because of the fear of being out and about.”
Only a few days are left to pass Senate Bill 42 and House Bill 177, the legislation in question.
Representative Brian Sims of Philadelphia believes the fact that this needs to be debated is ridiculous.He said, “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.”