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WATCH: Pa. State Senator: I'm Gay; Get Over It

WATCH: Pa. State Senator: I'm Gay; Get Over It

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Outgoing Pennsylvania state senator Jim Ferlo says he's never hidden his sexuality -- but now it's time to come out and pass hate-crimes protections in his home state.

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Pennsylvania's State Senate got its first openly gay member Tuesday, when Democrat Jim Ferlo publicly came out during a press conference highlighting the need for inclusive statewide hate-crimes legislation in the wake of a brutal antigay attack in Philadelphia earlier this month.

Speaking to media in the capitol, Ferlo said he has never hidden his sexuality and that he has known he is gay since his mid-20s.

"I'm gay," said the outgoing state senator, whose term ends in two months, according to Pennsylvania public broadcaster WITF. "And the reason why I wanted to state this now -- and I apologize for stating it so late in life -- but I am not any longer going to be in the State Senate. And I know that many people do not report hate crimes because of the fear of being out and about."

"I've never denied my homosexuality," continued Ferlo. "Many people, friends, coworkers, obviously, many in the media, many in the community, hundreds of people know I'm gay; I just never made an official declaration. 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 received enthusiastic applause from onloookers.

Three suspects -- including an area police chief's daughter -- have turned themselves in to authorities in connection with the September 11 assault that left two gay men hospitalized and required one to have his jaw wired shut. The Philadelphia district attorney has charged the three suspects with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and criminal conspiracy.

There is evidence that suggests the assailants targeted the victims because of their sexual orientation, but Pennsylvania hate-crimes law does not cover crimes motivated by anti-LGBT bias, so the suspects cannot be charged with a hate crime, at least at the state level. Tuesday's press conference called on state lawmakers to use the remaining days of the legislative session to pass the stalled hate-crimes legislation that Ferlo introduced in the State Senate in January of last year.

Watch Reuters video of Ferlo's coming-out below.

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Sunnivie Brydum

Sunnivie is the managing editor of The Advocate, and an award-winning journalist whose passion is covering the politics of equality and elevating the unheard stories of our community. Originally from Colorado, she and her spouse now live in Los Angeles, along with their three fur-children: dogs Luna and Cassie Doodle, and "Meow Button" Tilly.
Sunnivie is the managing editor of The Advocate, and an award-winning journalist whose passion is covering the politics of equality and elevating the unheard stories of our community. Originally from Colorado, she and her spouse now live in Los Angeles, along with their three fur-children: dogs Luna and Cassie Doodle, and "Meow Button" Tilly.