A central Pennsylvania state Republican lawmaker has come out publicly as gay in his local newspaper.

Representative Mike Fleck told the Daily News of Huntingdon County that his personal journey has been a year-long process of accepting his sexuality.

He says that being gay does not alter his convictions as a legislator or as a Republican.

Mr Fleck, who was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2006, says he chose to wait until after this year’s US election to disclose his sexuality to avoid distractions for his friends and colleagues.

The Pennsylvanian, who was married to a woman for almost a decade, says his Christian faith kept him from coming out for years.

“I wanted to live a ‘normal’ life and raise a family,” he said. “I also believed that by marrying, I was fulfilling God’s will and I thought my same-sex attraction would simply go away.”

Despite the GOP’s resistance to same-sex marriage, Mr Fleck said he would remain with the party because he’s not “a one-issue person.”

“The Republican party is all about the government needing to stay out of people’s lives.

“I’m not a one-issue person and it’s not a one-issue party.”

Mr Fleck is one of just two openly gay Republican state legislators in the United States, alongside Ohio state Representative Tim Brown.