Coming out

Good for him! It’ll be interesting to see how long he stays a Republican, considering the likely response:

A Republican lawmaker from rural central Pennsylvania who describes himself as a conservative Christian has made history as the first openly gay member of the state legislature.

Rep. Mike Fleck, 39, of Huntingdon, disclosed that he is gay in an interview with the Huntingdon Daily News published Saturday.

Fleck, who recently separated from his wife of almost a decade, told the newspaper he had struggled with his sexuality for years and hoped his openness would help others better understand the journey people have to take to live an authentic life.

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

It was unclear why the three-term lawmaker, believed to be only the second openly gay Republican legislator now serving in the country, decided to come out at this time.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly will swear in another openly gay lawmaker in January. Philadelphia lawyer Brian Sims, who beat longtime Rep. Babette Josephs in the Democratic primary, ran unopposed for her Center City seat in November.

Fleck, who through a friend said he was not interested in discussing his decision any further at this time, told the newspaper his announcement had not changed the fact that he remained a fiscal conservative and Christian.

“I’m still the exact same person and I am still a Republican, and, most importantly, I am still a person of faith trying to live life as a servant of God and the public,” he said. “The only difference now is that I will also be doing so as honestly as I know how.”

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