SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady of St. Charles is calling GOP lawmakers asking them to support a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage, he said Wednesday.
Brady said he was making the calls as a citizen, outside of his official role with the Illinois Republican Party.
"I think it's time for people to support this," Brady said.
On the other side of an issue that could be debated by lawmakers this week, Chicago Cardinal Francis George has released a letter urging lawmakers to reject making Illinois the next state to allow same-sex marriages.
"Marriage comes to us from nature. The human species comes in two complementary sexes, male and female. Their sexual union is called marital," the letter reads. "It not only creates a place of love for two adults but also a home for loving and raising their children. It provides the biological basis for
A letter from 1,700 state religious leaders also was sent to every Illinois lawmaker deriding claims that the proposal wouldn't interfere with religious freedom. "The real peril: If marriage is redefined in civil law, individuals and religious organizations, regardless of deeply held beliefs, will be compelled to treat same-sex unions as the equivalent of marriage in their lives, ministries and operations," said the letter, penned by leaders of Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Mormon, Anglican and Islamic faiths.
Lawmakers in Springfield could begin debating the issue at a hearing as early as today. Lawmakers approved civil unions two years ago by narrow margins, so a vote on same-sex marriage could be similarly close.
Same-sex marriage and gun control are two controversial issues lawmakers might begin discussing as the Illinois Senate meets today.
The high-profile debate over teachers' and state workers' pensions isn't likely to continue until the Illinois House convenes on Sunday.
A new class of lawmakers is set to be sworn in Jan. 9, when all legislation resets. Supporters of controversial proposals of all kinds see the three dozen or so lame-duck members in Springfield as possible keys to winning approval.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.