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.
“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.
“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.