Politics

Seasoned Pennsylvania Lawmaker Mike Fleck Will Probably Lose Race After Coming Out

| by Allison Geller

Openly gay lawmaker of the Pennsylvania legislature, Mike Fleck, looks poised to lose the race against a write-in candidate. Pennsylvania became the 19th state to legalize same-sex marriage this week.

Fleck, a four-term Republican state representative in central Pennsylvania, was married for over a decade before coming out; closeted, he said, because of his Christian faith.

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“I wanted to live a ‘normal’ life and raise a family,” Fleck said. “I also believed that by marrying, I was fulfilling God’s will and I thought my same-sex attraction would simply go away."

The 39-year-old lawmaker publically came out to his local paper, the Huntingdon Daily News, while insisting on his strong commitment to his faith and the Republican party.

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“Coming out is hard enough, but doing it in the public eye is definitely something I never anticipated,” he told the paper. “I’m still the exact same person and I’m still a Republican and, most importantly, I’m still a person of faith trying to live life as a servant of God and the public. The only difference now is that I will also be doing so as honestly as I know how.”

Other politicians said that Fleck should have kept quiet about his sexuality, which many of them suspected.

"A lot of people thought that Mike was a homosexual," Pennsylvania State Senator John H. Eichelberger Jr. told the Altoona Mirror. “He didn't announce it and it was OK. The feeling from many people is, he put them in a very uncomfortable position.”

Now the write-in candidate, Richard Irvin, looks poised to unseat Fleck in the 81st state House District race. The ballots are still being counted.

Fleck acknowledged in a Facebook post that he anticipated his revelation would bear consequences

“I am gay. I don’t wear it on my sleeve, it doesn’t define who I am, and quite frankly it’s the least interesting part about me,” Fleck wrote. “Nevertheless, I knew that when I came out this race would be nothing more, nothing less than whether my constituency could wrap their mind around the fact that I was a gay man. People fear that which is different.”

A federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban last Tuesday. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said he will not challenge the decision, despite the fact that he personally opposes it.

Sources: Huffington Post (2), Politics PA, Altoona Mirror, The Patriot News, FacebookCNN