Ill. GOP Chair Reiterates Support for Same-Sex Marriage
The chairman of Illinois’ Republican Party has been under fire from fellow GOPers after he announced he supports marriage equality and urged the state’s conservative lawmakers to do the same. The surprising revelation has some calling for his resignation, Illinois radio station WBEZ 91.5 reports.
Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady, who became the state’s GOP leader in 2009 when Republican Andrew McKenna stepped down to run for governor, encouraged Republican members of the Illinois General Assembly to support the proposed same-sex marriage bill. Brady probably expected members of his party’s caucus not to support him, although he may not have anticipated the antipathy expressed by some of his colleagues on his side of the aisle.
Democratic lawmakers in the Prairie State tried to legalize gay marriage already this year but encountered a setback last week when "a death in one lawmaker’s family and another senator’s extended trip to Israel were enough to push the issue into the next legislative session," the Associated Press reported.
After Brady released his statement backing marriage equality, conservative groups went for blood. Many demanded that he be denied state leadership of the party.
"Pat Brady is a total disgrace," Bobbie Peterson, a Republican state central committeewoman, said. "He’s a pretty face for TV. He can speak well. Period. But what’s coming out of his mouth is not what the Illinois Republican party is about."
State Sen. Jim Oberweis, a state committeeman, expressed being "shocked" and also asked for Brady’s resignation. He added that he "did not expect that and didn’t know why he would have done that."
Despite the criticism, Brady has doubled down on his stance. He acknowledges that he didn’t consult with committeemembers before speaking out, but, he told WBEZ, he made his statement as a private citizen and called the gay marriage ban Illinois’ "last condoned discrimination."
"If people want to throw me out because I took a stand on an issue of discrimination [as] the chairman of the Republican Party, the party founded by Abraham Lincoln, then that’s up to them," Brady said in a statement. "They’re free to do it. But I’m not backing down," .
Committeemember Gene Dawson, another of those calling for Brady’s resignation, responded, "I can only express my disappointment in the way this has come about and the manner in which the Republican platform of Illinois has been completely disregarded."
Brady hasn’t always been so keen on marriage equality, however. According to a 2010 article by the website Republican News Watch, Brady was urged to resign after he allegedly called gay writers on conservative website HillBuzz.org a "bunch of fucking faggots."
As WBEZ noted, it would take a three-fifths majority of the weighted vote from state committeemembers to vote Brady out of his leadership position. Each vote is weighted based on how many people cast ballots in congressional districts in last year’s primary. Four committeemembers, or nearly half the votes needed to oust him, told the radio station they had asked Brady to step down.
Conservatives from around the country are joining the chorus of Illinois Republicans. Peter LaBarbera, who runs Illinois-based virulently anti-gay organization Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (and, some think, may be its only member), told fellow state citizens to "call or write your state representatives immediately and urge them to vote against the homosexual ’marriage’ bill."
Not surprisingly, the National Organization for Marriage has jumped into the fray. "Brady has betrayed us, betrayed his party, misrepresented ’key Republican values,’ and insulted conservative voters in Illinois and across America who deserve leaders who refuse to sell out on such a fundamental and crucial issue like the defense of marriage, children and family," NOM President Brian Brown said in a statement.
He went on: "The future of marriage in Illinois demands that Brady be replaced immediately with a brave pro-marriage individual who will fight back against the out-of-state liberal activists now attempting to impose gay marriage on the Land of Lincoln without the will or consent of the we the people."