Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady escapes second ouster attempt over gay marriage

Mon. April 15, 2013 8:11 AM by News Staff

Brady: ‘We’re a party that welcomes all ideas’

Tinley Park, IL - Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady Saturday survived a second attempt to oust him as party chairman over his support for same-sex marriage.

"I'm still here," Brady told reporters after the three-hour closed-door meeting held in Tinley Park. "I think it was a good, productive meeting. We'll see what happens going forward."

Conservative members of the state Republican Party, lead by anti-gay state Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), have been trying since January to remove Brady as party chairman after he voiced his support for same-sex marriage legislation.

"It strengthens and reinforces a key Republican value – that the law should treat all citizens equally," Brady said in a statement at the time.

GOP leaders did not take a vote on removing Brady during Saturday's meeting, but they did approve a succession strategy. An attempt last month to oust Brady failed due to a lack of votes.

"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 after Saturday's meeting, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Top GOP officials, including former Republican Govs. Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, House Republican Leader Tom Cross and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), have sounded support for Brady and agreed that the party should be more inclusive.

"There is a clear awakening among Republican politicians to the national consensus on the freedom to marry," Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov told "If the GOP wants to be the big tent party, then they need to rally around the likes of Sen. Mark Kirk, Judy Barr Topinka and Chairman Pat Brady - all of whom support marriage equality."

Long-time gay rights activist Rick Garcia of The Civil Rights Agenda called the attempts to oust Brady "unfortunate for the party."

"There is a growing trend among Illinois Republicans to support same-sex marriage," he said.

On April 7, state Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr. (R-Mundelein) announced his support of a marriage equality bill which awaits a vote in the Illinois House. Sullivan becomes the second House Republican to support the legislation after state Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downer's Grove) announced his support.

"Let's put this (support) in context," said Garcia. "No anti-gay Republican or Democrat has won statewide office in over a decade and both the civil union bill and the non-discrimination bill passed with Republican votes."

The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act passed the House Executive Committee in a narrow 6-5 vote Feb. 26, and the full state Senate Feb. 14. A full House vote is the final hurdle before the measure reaches Gov. Pat Quinn.

Support for marriage equality in Illinois continues to grow; a recent Crain's/Ipsos poll shows Illinoisans supporting marriage equality, with 50 percent in favor and only 29 percent opposed. Of the 50 percent in support, 37 percent "strongly" support the freedom to marry, according to the poll.

"There is a small but strong core of Republicans who support the LGBT community and it is growing," concluded Garcia.