Ariz. state senator who fought recent bill says he’s gay

Steve Gallardo, Russell Pearce

Arizona State Sen. Steve Gallardo

A veteran Arizona lawmaker who was a vocal critic of a bill that touched off a national debate over discrimination came out as gay on Wednesday, saying “I wanted to let everyone know I am gay, I’m a Latino and I’m a state senator and it’s OK.”

The Associated Press reported that State Sen. Steve Gallardo said he felt the need to come out publicly partly because of the recent battle against a bill approved by the Arizona Legislature that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gays based on religious beliefs.

“In the middle of that discussion, it dawned on me that this bill affects me directly, and seeing all the people come to the Capitol protesting and rallying around this bill solidified my thought and that it’s time for me to stand up and say, ‘This is who I am,’” he said.

Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill after strong opposition from the business community.

Gallardo, 45, said he also wants to send a message to members of the LGBT community who struggle with coming out as gay. He added that his family and friends have known about his sexuality for a long time.

The Phoenix Democrat is running for the open U.S. House seat being vacated by the retirement of Rep. Ed Pastor.

Gallardo served in the state House of Representatives from 2003 to 2009 and has been a state senator since 2011. He is one of three openly gay legislators in Arizona: Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix, and Rep. Demion Clinco, D-Tucson. U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, has said she is bisexual.

Pastor’s announcement last month that he would not run for re-election is expected to set the stage for a contested Democratic primary in the 7th Congressional District. The heavily Hispanic District is located entirely in Phoenix and is solidly Democratic.

—  Steve Ramos

What’s Brewing: Sarah Palin, Westboro Baptist Church, The Advocate’s gayest cities

1. Sarah Palin released a video statement (above) this morning in response to the Tucson shooting, saying her decision to put rifle crosshairs on a map over Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ district had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the incident at all. How could it have, right? But why so defensive then? And what better way for Palin to address a shooting that targeted Giffords, who’s Jewish, than by using an anti-semitic metaphor? Palin says those who link the tragedy to her violent rhetoric are committing “blood libel” — which refers to an accusation from the Middle Ages that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood to make matzoh for Passover. Palin is right, this incident was more about mental illness than rhetoric — until you consider the fact that the ones spewing the rhetoric are mentally ill. (Politico)

2. The governor of Arizona signed emergency legislation to prohibit Westboro Baptist Church from picketing within 300 feet of the funeral for a 9-year-old girl who was killed in the Tucson shooting. The legislation was initiated by openly gay State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Tucson, who said this: “I’m a strong advocate of the First Amendment and the bottom line is this, Fred Phelps and his group of people can still spew their hate if they want. They just don’t get to do it close to the families that are grieving. They have to be farther away.” (ABC 15)

3. The Advocate lists Minneapolis as the gayest city in America, and Texas is shut out of the top 15. Have we mentioned that The Advocate sucks?

—  John Wright