The head of Pennsylvania’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens lobby is applauding the decision of a Republican state House lawmaker to come out as gay.
Rep. Mike Fleck of Huntingdon County told his local newspaper the decision was part of his effort to be “authentic,” and that he doesn’t expect it to change his voting pattern.
Ted Martin, director of Equality Pennsylvania, says whether Fleck’s decision to come out will mean more support for LGBT legislation is a question for later.
“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,” Martin said Monday. “I mean, this is a pretty significant thing.”
Martin says he hopes Fleck eventually does lobby for nondiscrimination measures to ensure more protection for LGBT citizens in Pennsylvania.
“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,” Martin said,
Having an openly gay Republican in the House could mean the GOP-controlled chamber might eventually warm to LGBT legislation, Marin said.
A House measure introduced last session would ensure more workplace and housing protections of LGBT Pennsylvanians. The bill was never voted out of committee.
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.