Pennsylvania Senator Jim Ferlo formally announced that he is gay this morning while speaking at a rally in support of updating the state’s hate crime law.
Flanked by members of Philadelphia’s LGBT community and out Rep. Brian Sims, Ferlo told a crowd of LGBT supporters that “hundreds of people know I’m gay. I just never made an official declaration.”
Speaking for the first time as Pennsylvania’s first openly gay senator, Ferlo added: “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.”
Ferlo and Sims were speaking in the capitol this morning to help push support for Senate Bill 42 and House Bill 177, which would expand the state’s hate crime law to include protections for LGBT people. The topic has become urgent and more hotly debated following a brutal Sept. 11 gay bashing in Center City that left two victims hospitalized.
Today, six days after assailants in the crime were identified, there have been no arrests made. We’ve been reporting that even when if they are, they will not be hate-related as the state’s current hate crime law does not recognize hate crimes as LGBT-inclusive.
At this morning’s press conference, Senator Larry Farnese explained that SB 42 and HB 177 have been moving through the capitol for years, but now have renewed vigor.
Speaking in favor of urgently passing SB 42, which was originally drafted by the newly publicly out Ferlo, Sims said “there’s a million of us in this state and we deserve the same rights and the same protections as everybody else.”