Pennsylvania Republican State Rep. Mike Fleck has just come out, announcing he is gay. Fleck, described as a moderate Republican and "a devout Christian," first won his seat in 2006, and becomes the nation's only currently sitting openly gay Republican state legislator.
"He will be joined in Pa. in January by Brian Sims of Philadelphia. The Democratic attorney is the first openly gay candidate to run and win office in Pa.; he ousted Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Phila) in April," as Politics PA reports:
Ted Martin is Executive Director of Equality Pa., the stateâ€™s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization. He says Fleck is now the only openly gay Republican legislator in the nation, although another will take office in Ohio in January. Former Missouri RepublicanÂ Rep. Zach WyattÂ is also openly gay.
In a deeply personal story by theÂ Huntingdon Daily NewsÂ (subscription), Fleck, a devout Christian, explained the difficult road to his announcement.
â€œComing out is hard enough, but doing it in the public eye is definitely something I never anticipated,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m still the exact same person and Iâ€™m still a Republican and, most importantly, Iâ€™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.â€
He said his party affiliation remains strong.
â€œThe Republican party is all about the government needing to stay out of peopleâ€™s lives,â€ Fleck said. â€œIâ€™m not a one-issue person and itâ€™s not a one-issue party.â€
Fleck, 39, has a resume that would impress Republicans anywhere. An Eagle Scout by age 18, he graduated from Liberty University in 1995 and worked professionally for the Boy Scouts of America as a district executive in Huntingdon County from 1999 to 2004. He was married in 2002.
Regular NCRM readers have gotten to know incoming Rep. Brian Sims well. Sims now will not be Pennsylvania's first openly gay lawmaker, but he will be Pennsylvania's first electedÂ openly gay lawmaker.
Our deep and sincere congratulations to them both.