The veto of SB 1062, a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse customers service based on the owners’ religious beliefs, inspired Gallardo to share his voice as a law maker and as a gay man.
“Two weeks ago was a difference. Feb. 19 was an actual game changer,” he said.
Gallardo referenced the date that the Arizona Senate debated and passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, also known as SB 1062. Although Governor Jan Brewer didn’t sign the bill, the pure fact that such a bill was passed opened Gallardo’s eyes to what was happening in his state. as a lawmaker, he has been outspoken about GOP decisions, but he never made gay rights a priority.
The 44-year-old contemplated over the weekend on how he would come out to the public, something family and friend knew for quite a long time.
“I am gay, I’m Latino and I’m a senator. And it’s OK,” he said.
In making the announcement, Gallardo made it clear that his sexuality has no impact on his political aspirations. On the heels of the potential passing of a bill that was viewed as a legalized discrimination against gays and lesbians, Gallardo knew in his heart the time was right.
Steve Gallardo is the third openly gay member of the Legislature in the state of Arizona along with Democrats, Sen. Robert Meza of Phoeniz and Rep. Demion Clinco of Tucson.