As dozens of state legislators and community advocates rallied this morning in the State Capitol for LGBT-inclusive hate crimes legislation, Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-38) came out as an openly gay man. He is the prime sponsor of SB 42, the leading hate crimes legislation in the State Senate, and cited he was coming out at this moment to take a stand against brutal anti-LGBT violence. Sen. Ferlo is concluding his third term in the State Senate representing part of Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties, and is retiring from the legislature this fall.
Sen. Ferlo is the first member of the Pennsylvania State Senate to identify openly as gay. He joins State Rep. Mike Fleck (R-81) who came out as gay in December 2012, and Rep. Brian Sims (D-182) ran as an out candidate and assumed office in January 2013.
Sen. Ferlo has been a longtime supporter of LGBTQ rights legislation. He has consistently backed every piece of LGBT equality legislation in the senate, including being one of only three co-sponsors of the first marriage equality bill, introduced by Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17), in 2009. He has introduced the LGBT-inclusive hate crimes bill for the past four consecutive legislative sessions.
Pennsylvania had adopted an LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes law in 2002, but it was struck down by the PA Supreme Court in 2008 due to a procedural rule.
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