Pennsylvania GOP State Lawmaker Comes Out

Jim Burroway

December 3rd, 2012

Pennsylvania Republican State Rep. Mike Fleck made a few headlines over the weekend when he came out as gay, making him the first openly gay Republican state legislator in Pennsylvania. Fleck, identified as a devout Christian, first won his seat in 2006. He described his coming out this way:

Coming out is hard enough, but doing it in the public eye is definitely something I never anticipated,” he said. “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.”

Fleck, was an executive at the Boy Scouts of America, felt compelled to remain in the closet even though he knew he was gay. He married in 2000, but they divorced in the past year. He also tried ex-gay therapy:

“I sought out treatment from a Christian counselor, but when that didn’t work out, I engaged a secular therapist who told me point blank that I was gay and that I was too caught up in being the perfect Christian rather than actually being authentic and honest,” Fleck said.

He said the hardest part of the process has been reconciling his faith with his sexuality.

“Through years of counseling, I’ve met a lot of gay Christians who have tried hard to change their God-given sexual orientation, but at the end of the day, I know of none who’ve been successful,” he said. “They’ve only succeeded at repressing their identity, only to have it reappear time and time again and always wreaking havoc not only on themselves, but especially on their family.”

Fleck says that he and his wife remain close friends.

He will be joined in Harrisburg in January by Democrat Brian Sims of Philadelphia, who is the first openly gay candidate to run and win a state office in Pennsylvania.

Fleck is currently the only openly gay Republican state legislator in the country. But in January, he will give up that distinction when Ohio Republican Tim Brown is sworn in to that state’s House of Representatives in January.

Early reports had it that Fleck was the first openly gay GOP state lawmaker in the country, but that is incorrect. I don’t know who holds that distinction, but former Arizona Rep. Steve May came out in 1999 during a speech on the House floor. He was then discharged from the Army Reserves for violating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” May served as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee where he played a role in repealing the state’s sodomy law. He lost his House seat in 2002.

Timothy Kincaid

December 3rd, 2012

Considering that Tisei was running for Congress in a very high profile race and publicly came out while MA Senate Majority leader, that’s a surprising mistake. And I have the feeling there were others before May, but I can’t come up with a name.

I believe that the first openly gay GOP congressman (or, perhaps, “scandally gay”) was Robert Bauman from Maryland.

markanthony

December 3rd, 2012

No scandal (real or imaginary) with his outing either. That’s got to be a good thing.

Corey

December 3rd, 2012

Welcome !
The community is a wonderful melting pot

Brandon

December 3rd, 2012

I’m glad he was able to come out, its never easy – specially w/ his background. Coming out will certainly change the relationships w/in his church and community. According to his webpage, he still serves on the executive board of his local Boys Scouts group – I wonder when he will be forced to resign?

Steve

December 3rd, 2012

He is a theocrat (putting his god before his job) and a moron. In other words a typical Republican. He says he wants a small government, but he voted to restrict abortions and expand wiretaps.

Muscat

December 3rd, 2012

I live in PA and this is the first I’ve heard about it. So really low profile news.

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