- Senator's coming out is more of an afterthought
- Sen. Jim Ferlo was announcing a proposed change to the state's hate crime law
- "I'm gay. Get over it," he says
- Three suspects in the beating of a gay couple have been charged
It was one of those oh-by-the-way moments -- an afterthought really. It wasn't supposed to be a coming out party.
Sure, the subject matter was serious, but in the end the mood was lighthearted.
Lawmakers gathered in the Pennsylvania state capital in Harrisburg on Tuesday to propose a major change in the state's hate crime law to extend protection to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Lawmakers made their pitch for getting the legislation to the governor's desk by the end of the year.
Then bill sponsor, Sen. Jim Ferlo of Pittsburgh, made his surprise announcement -- very casually.
"Hundreds of people know I'm gay. I just never made an official declaration," he said. "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."
The announcement capped a momentous day for the LGBT community.
Earlier, charges were filed against three people in the recent beating of a gay couple in Philadelphia.
All are charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and criminal conspiracy, CNN affiliate WPVI reported. They could not be charged with a hate crime for the same reason lawmakers held their news conference -- people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are not covered under Pennsylvania's hate crime law.
Kevin J. Harrigan, 26, Kathryn G. Knott, 24, and Phillip Williams, 24, surrendered to police on Wednesday, according to WPVI.
Later, Ferlo, who will be leaving the state Senate in November, said his remarks weren't planned.
"It was totally impromptu. I've never denied it. I've never felt the need to talk about it," he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.