Pennsylvania has its First Openly Gay GOP Representative
Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Fleck announced last week hat he is gay; Brian Sims, a Democrat, became the first openly gay man to run and be elected to Pennsylvania’s General Assembly.
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania has its first openly gay Republican state lawmaker. State Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntingdon, came out in story published the Huntington Daily News, a paper in his district. In the story, he describes past conflicts between his Christian faith, his outward reality and his true identity. Keegan Gibson at PoliticsPA posted portions of the article:
“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.”
He said his party affiliation remains strong.
“The Republican party is all about the government needing to stay out of people’s lives,” Fleck said. “I’m not a one-issue person and it’s not a one-issue party.”
Fleck was married for nearly a decade, and also worked as a district executive for the Boy Scouts of America. He also served as chairman of the Huntingdon County United Way Campaign, according to the Huntingdon Daily News’ article.
This past election, Brian Sims, a Democrat from Philadelphia, became the first openly gay man to be elected to Pennsylvania’s General Assembly. He defeated sitting state Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Philadelphia, in the primary for the Center City district, and ran unopposed in the general election. Sims is an attorney and civil rights activist.
Fleck’s 81st district is a swath of land in the heart of central Pennsylvania that spans Blair, Huntingdon and Mifflin counties. The district has had a Republican representative since 1969.
Fleck has held the seat since 2007, and ran unopposed this year. He was also unchallenged in 2010. Fleck’s announcement comes at a time when, nationally, some in the Republican party are considering how they may appeal to new groups of voters and how to become more diverse after losing the presidential election.