The American Civil Liberties Union has hired former Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady's lobbying firm to push for same-sex marriage in his home state and elsewhere in the Midwest.
The St. Charles Republican left the party position earlier this year and started the Next Generation Public Affairs firm after his lobbying efforts on the issue created calls for his ouster from the GOP leadership.
Opponents of same-sex marriage in Illinois declared victory after the Illinois House declined to vote on the issue at the end of May. Supporters didn't have enough votes to win approval but hope to have a vote this fall.
Brady could help drive more GOP lawmakers on board with the cause. He pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer tossing out the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
"A lot's changed in the last couple months," Brady said. "It's not going to go in the other direction."
State Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Sugar Grove Republican, and other party leaders blasted Brady for lobbying against the party's platform of opposing same-sex marriage. But others, including Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Highland Park, came to Brady's defense.
Brady was replaced as Illinois Republican chairman in June by Rosemont Trustee Jack Dorgan, who works as a lobbyist in Springfield.
ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka said the group hired Brady because his ties to Republicans could help with same-sex marriage advocates' hopes to make inroads with the GOP.
"Obviously, as a party chair, he has contacts with other party chairs and other party officials," Yohnka said.
Most of supporters' focus has been on working to win over enough Democrats to approve same-sex marriage, but two Republicans from the suburbs said they'll support it: state Reps. Ed Sullivan of Mundelein and Ron Sandack of Downers Grove.
"It's going to require a bipartisan effort," Brady said.