A Republican state senator expressed his belief that a fellow lawmaker serving in the Pennsylvania state legislature put his career at risk by coming out of the closet following his reelection in 2012.
Addressing the reelection prospects of State Rep. Mike Fleck (R), State Sen. John Eichelberger Jr. said that Fleck should have kept his sexual orientation to himself, according to MSNBC.
“If [Fleck] had just gone about his business and people thought he was a homosexual or heterosexual or whatever, there wouldn’t be a problem,” Eichelberger said in an interview with the Altoona Mirror.
Fleck, who has held his seat since 2006, is currently running behind write-in candidate Richard Irvin, treasurer for a local county, with votes still being counted by hand due to the closeness in the race. Results are expected to be announced on Tuesday.
Fleck came out as gay in 2012, with a posting on his Facebook page.
“I am gay. I don’t wear it on my sleeve, it doesn’t define who I am, and quite frankly it’s the least interesting part about me,” he wrote. “Nevertheless, I knew that when I came out this race would be nothing more, nothing less than whether my constituency could wrap their mind around the fact that I was a gay man. People fear that which is different.”
Eichelberger indicated that constituents suspected Fleck was gay but, by confirming it, he put them in a “very uncomfortable position.”
“A lot of people thought that Mike was a homosexual,” Eichelberger explained. “He didn’t announce it and it was OK. The feeling from many people is, he put them in a very uncomfortable position.”
Prior to serving in the legislature Fleck served as a district executive with the Oneida District, Boy Scouts of America.
Fleck attained the rank of Eagle Scout in 1991.