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Sen. Steve Gallardo of Arizona, who openly opposed a controversial anti-gay bill passed in the Legislature, announced his homosexuality on Wednesday.
“I’m a Latino, I’m a native of Arizona, I come from a Catholic family and I’m gay, it’s OK,” Gallardo told NBC News shortly after he made the announcement at the state Capitol in Phoenix.
The senator said he felt the need to come out after Arizona’s Legislature passed a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gays based on religious beliefs. Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill.
“This bill allows businesses to say to me and my friends that we can’t be served in certain restaurants,” he told NBC News. “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.”
Gallardo, a Democrat, served in the Arizona House 2003-2009, then moved to the Senate in 2011. He plans to run for the U.S. House seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Ed Pastor this year.
Gallardo said that he is not concerned with how the news will affect his chances of winning the seat.
"I don't care about the congressional race, I don't know if it helps me or hurts me, this is bigger than any race …," he said. "If I can make it easier for just one person, it's worth it."