Republicans in Illinois ousted a member of their own party on Tuesday in response to a bipartisan decision he made back in April. When a Democratic-sponsored bill to legalize same-sex marriage came to the floor last month, Pat Brady, chair of the state’s Republican Party, decided to cross party lines and speak out in favor of the anti-discrimination law, sending shock waves through his party.
The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which would make Illinois the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage, made it through the Senate on Valentine’s Day and is expected to come to a vote in the House after a 6-5 vote passage in the House Executive Committee in late February.
Brady announced his support of the bill and called on his colleagues to do the same. “I think there are people in the party who don’t necessarily agree with me, but the point is…we’re a party that welcomes all ideas,” Brady said. “You don’t have to be exactly a platform Republican to be welcome in the party, and that’s the direction we’re taking the party.”
After Brady threw his support behind marriage equality, Republicans in Illinois met behind closed doors to tell him that his forced resignation was imminent. They succeeded in doing so today, before a vote was able to make it to the House floor.
“We’re the party of Abraham Lincoln. We were founded as an abolitionist party to end slavery,” Brady told an Illinois news network, “Our bedrock principle as Republicans is equality of treatment under the law.”
An Illinois poll shows that nearly 46 percent of voters believe the state should legalize same-sex marriage, and an overwhelming 79 percent believe the state should grant some type of legal rights to same-sex couples. Despite the call from leaders of the GOP at this year’s CPAC conference for the party to be more accepting, Illinois Republicans have decided equality is just not something they stand for.
Brady didn’t mention a reason for resignation in his letter released on Tuesday, but he did specifically thank two leaders, Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL), who has publicly supported marriage equality, and Illinois State Representative Tom Cross (R), who has been ambivalent on the issue but certainly not in opposition. The Illinois Republican Party may soon learn that alienating themselves from leaders like Representative Brady will surely alienate them from an entire group of voters in their state — which is increasingly supportive of same-sex marriage.
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