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The Head of the State’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens lobby is applauding the decision of a Republican state House lawmaker to come out as openly gay. Representative Mike Fleck of Huntingdon County told his local newspaper the decision was part of his effort to be authentic, and that he does not expect it to change his voting pattern.
Ted Martin, Director of Equality Pennsylvania (a group advocating in Harrisburg and across the state exclusively for the rights of LGBT Pennsylvanians), said whether Fleck’s decision to come out will mean more support for LGBT legislation is a question for further down the road.
“In the short term, Representative Fleck deserves a little bit of breathing space and a lot of respect for his integrity in doing that. And I hope people constituents, the media, a lot of folks will give him the ability to adjust. I mean, this is a pretty significant thing,” Martin said.
He said he hopes Fleck eventually does lobby for nondiscrimination measures to ensure more protection for LGBT citizens in Pennsylvania.
“I don’t want to ram an agenda, quote unquote, down his throat right now. I want to give him time to adjust. But certainly I hope he would be more sensitive and open to talking about the issues as time moves forward and helping us to make the case in a different way, in a far different way in Harrisburg,” Martin said.
Fleck will not be the only gay member in the state House next session. In January, Philadelphia Democrat Brian Sims will be sworn in after being the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the chamber.