Arizona state Sen. Steve Gallardo (D) came out as gay Wednesday, a week after Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed legislation that would have allowed discrimination against LGBT residents.
The tone of that debate and the national firestorm that descended on Arizona while the bill sat on Brewer's desk motivated Gallardo to come out publicly, he told TPM in an interview. He had come out to his friends and family years ago, he said, but the anti-gay legislation that he voted against and Brewer eventually rejected convinced him that he needed to "take a stand."
Gallardo, who is now running to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor (D), discussed his decision with TPM and what it was like to be a gay lawmaker in a conservative state, where, he said, his legislative colleagues would make derogatory remarks in the state capitol's elevators and his parents were uneasy when he said he intended to tell the public that he was gay.
The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.
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