On his fifth time on the ballot, Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike
Fleck is testing whether his largely rural, conservative district is
ready for an openly gay lawmaker.
Fleck came out in December 2012, less than a month after winning
re-election to his fourth and current term.
He told The
New York Times that he'll announce his bid for a fifth term
But unlike his previous campaigns, this time around he doesn't
expect to win 100% percent of the vote. In fact, many in his deeply
religious district assumed he was finished with politics after he
announced his sexual orientation.
“I love this area,” he told the paper. “I think it's going
to catch up. But it's never going to catch up unless there are
people like me out there. And that's true not just of here but of
the Bible Belt and a whole lot of America.”
“These are good people. They've just never had to think about
Fleck's sister told the paper that they grew up in a home that
prayed every night as a family and “we believed that gays were
going to hell, as well as anyone who associated with them.”
In coming out last year, Fleck said hat he married his best friend
and sought out treatment from a Christian counselor in hopes of
altering his sexual orientation from gay to straight.
“I wanted to live a 'normal' life and raise a family,” he told
Daily News. “I also believed that by marrying, I was
fulfilling God's will and I thought my same-sex attraction would
simply go away.”
Today, he's openly dating a Manhattan physician, Warren Licht,
which he knows could end his political career. But he told the Times
that win or lose he's proud of what he's accomplished.