State Rep. Mike Fleck, who came out even though he represents a conservative House District in the Altoona area (Pennsylvania’s “T”) was upset in the Republican primary by a write-in candidate. He did, however, win the Democratic side in a write-in effort. This is the most unusual result of last week’s primary election. The moderate Republican has a reputation in Harrisburg for working across the aisle to accomplish things like last year’s desperately needed transportation bill. Coming out as gay in such a conservative area was a risk. This was courageous and Fleck became the first openly gay legislator in state history. Soon afterwards Brian Sims became the first openly gay man to be elected to the legislature.
Sen. Eichelberger, long known for his extreme bigotry and insensitive comments lamented that had Fleck just stayed in the closet everything would have been fine. The Senator, whose District includes Fleck’s, seems to think living in the closet is fine. It isn’t, closets are lonely, desperate places to live and the Representative had every choice to move out of his. This was just one more example of Sen. Eichelberger’s bigotry. There have been many.
While Pennsylvania finally became the last state in the Northeast to legalize gay marriage last week this is a definitive step backwards. Mike Fleck deserves re-election and progressives, liberals and Democrats across the Commonwealth should rally behind his run on the Dem side this November.
On another note Montgomery County, ironically, became the final one of our 67 counties to begin issuing same sex marriage licenses. The State Supreme Court had issued an injunction against MontCo Register of Wills Bruce Haines barring him from issuing them after he did so last year following the SCOTUS Windsor decision. Since he was still under that injunction gay couples in one of our most populous counties couldn’t get licenses even after Federal Judge John Jones III overturned the state’s ban last week. The injunction has now been revoked.