Fleck, 39, was raised as a fundamentalist Christian and graduated from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in 1991. He married Dorea Cunningham in 2002, though the couple split last year. “I wanted to live a normal life and raise a family,” he told the Daily News of his decision to wed. “I also believed that by marrying, I was fulfilling God’s will and I thought my same-sex attraction would simply go away.
Obviously he was wrong.
Today, Fleck says he is still “a person of faith trying to live life as a servant of God and the public.” But many GOP gays, Fleck got wrapped up in some anti-gay causes: From 1999 to 2004, he was a district executive for the Boy Scouts in Huntingdon County. “My livelihood depended on hiding my true sexual orientation—something I was very good at.”
He also tried to pray the gay away: “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 honest.” He has met other Christians grappling with their orientation, but says, “I know of none who’ve been successful.”
Fleck, whose district includes Amish and rural Appalachian communities, entered office in 2006 and ran unopposed in the November election. Currently he’s the only openly gay legislator in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, though that will change when Democrat Brian Sims is sworn into office in January.
Don’t expect Fleck to switch teams any time soon, though: “The Republican Party is all about the government needing to stay out of people’s lives,” he maintains. “I’m not a one-issue person and it’s not a one-issue party.”
Staying out of people’s lives, Mike? That’s not really the GOP’s bag anymore.
Pennsylvania does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. Though measures to ban same-sex marriage have been considered in the state Senate, Fleck hasn’t had an opportunity to vote on them in the House.
Well, at least we can count on Fleck to back any marriage-equality measures, right?