PHOENIX -- State Sen. Steve Gallardo, a veteran Arizona lawmaker who was a vocal critic of a bill that touched off a national debate over discrimination came out as gay on Wednesday, saying "I wanted to let everyone know I am gay, I'm a Latino and I'm a state senator and it's OK."
The Phoenix Democrat is running for the open U.S. House seat being vacated by the retirement of Rep. Ed Pastor.
Gallardo served in the state House of Representatives from 2003 to 2009 and has been a state senator since 2011. He is one of three openly gay legislators in Arizona: Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix, and Rep. Demion Clinco, D-Tucson. U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, has said she is bisexual.
Pastor's announcement last month that he would not run for re-election is expected to set the stage for a contested Democratic primary in the 7th Congressional District. The heavily Hispanic District is located entirely in Phoenix and is solidly Democratic.