Pennsylvania has its first openly homosexual State Representative, and that’s not all. State Rep. Mike Fleck is also the only openly gay sitting state legislator who is also a Republican in the country. He has been married (to a woman) before, unsuccessfully, as he and his wife are separated at this time. He does say that they are still best friends.
In the Huntington Daily News, Fleck said that,
“So I just prayed harder and put it in God’s hands,” he said, adding that as one of the county’s most visible couples, the unresolved feelings and pressure of public scrutiny took its toll and Fleck opted for 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.”
To that secular therapist, good job! Somebody had to tell him.
Fleck holds office in one of the most conservative districts in Pennsylvania, however; he’s been faulted before, in fact, for being too moderate. It seems somewhat unlikely he’ll get the office back if he runs for reelection when it comes up. He says that he has no plans to change his votes in the state Assembly.
Politics PA reports the following:
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, 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.
In the legislature he’s been a moderate Republican; he was targeted by the conservative Citizens Alliance for Pennsylvania in 2011. However, aside a few votes in committees where Fleck doesn’t serve, there haven’t been significant votes on gay rights issues during his tenure.
This story is a somewhat bright light in the dark war on sexuality within the Republican Party. The religious influence on the far right wing of the Republican Party (before the election period it seemed like the only wing to the Republican Party) has caused them, as a near-whole, to view homosexuality or same-sex romantic attraction as “sin,” causing a religious hatred and attitude of nonacceptance.
That influence has inspired the “it’s a choice” meme, which makes it even more likely that Fleck will be ostracized by Republicans. The statistics aren’t wrong, though, and it is extremely likely that there are many, many more closeted homosexual Republicans holding offices across the country. Denial of your orientation is unhealthy, and hopefully this move by Fleck will, in some small way, encourage the GOP to begin the abandonment of the archaic attitude toward same-sex attraction.