Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike Fleck has announced that he is gay, making him the first openly gay lawmaker in the state.

Fleck, who was first elected to the House in 2006, called the decision to come out difficult.

“Coming out is hard enough, but doing it in the public eye is definitely something I never anticipated,” he told the Huntingdon Daily News (subscription). 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 said he married and sought out treatment from a Christian counselor in hopes of altering his sexual orientation.

“I wanted to live a 'normal' life and raise a family,” he said. “I also believed that by marrying, I was fulfilling God's will and I thought my same-sex attraction would simply go away.”

The 39-year-old Fleck and his wife separated about a year ago, according to

Gay rights activists cheered on November 6 when Brian Sims of Philadelphia was elected the state's first openly gay House member. Now it turns out, Sims will have to settle for second place when he takes his oath in January.